Friday, June 26, 2009

Daily update: Period came. No pregnancy. I go on. Yesterday a local puppet theater came to our neighborhood as part of their "driveway tour." Lots of families and kids and great fun. If Iris ends up being our only child I am consoled partly with the fact that she definitely not deprived of a healthy social life.

OK. Dave and Jenny's wedding. As I said, we dressed up and attended and had a great time, although I was starting to get a sore throat.

The wedding was beautiful and reminded me very much of my own. Many enthusiastic friends and family donning exquisitely eccentric clothing under a beautiful blue sky. A good time was had by all. The next morning the cold I had been putting off made a stronger mark and lapsed me into exhaustion and irritability. Getting dressed for the day-after wedding party produced a laughable “good enough” costume of a comfortable yet slightly flamenco black skirt I got at a Mexican market and a purple halter top I have had for years and years and wear when I want to be comfortable yet a bit sexy. My throat was sore. We were heading out to the party early so as to be able to exit early and get home to rest, feel sick and sleep. We got all of us into the car after I grabbed a bottle of wine from our kitchen counter for a contribution to the festivities.

We pulled up in front of my friends’ house who live two doors down from the newlyweds and got out of the car. It was getting dark already at 8:00pm, it being early October in Minneapolis. I wanted to show Robert and Iris the work Phillip had done on his house in the back. He had just finished putting in a solarium he had bought for a song from an old now razed university building on the back of their Victorian house. I walk through the front gate and to the left side of their house to follow the cement path that will take me to the rear of the house. Robert and Iris are behind me a ways as I am rushing so as to move all the events of the evening on and get me back home and in bed. I am just making the turn to the side of the house when I trip over a little plastic mesh garden fence my friends had strung over the path to keep their new puppy in the yard. “Damn, the garden fence!” I think while I am in the air. I hear the bottle of wine break. It sounds behind me somehow. “Damn, the bottle broke!” I think, still in mid air. Then I am on all fours on the cement path thinking, “Well, that wasn’t so bad.” I look at my right hand and see that it is lying in a pile of shattered bottle glass. I say to myself, “Oh, I might be hurt.” I pick my hand up and see that it is covered with a dark liquid and I, “Either that’s wine, or it’s blood.” I get to my feet and walk to the friend’s side porch which has a light and I get very scared. Blood is pouring out of a long wound in the palm of my hand like a faucet.

I try to catch the blood with my left hand by holding it under my right. I yell to Robert who is still somewhere behind me with my daughter, “Robert, I think I hurt my hand really badly.” My pinkie finger is sliced at the base so that I can see a long gash exposing yellow body fat. I can’t move it. I lurch back and forth not knowing what to do or where to go. My friends are not at home, but my friend’s brother is staying with them. He’s from Holland and does not speak English very well. Robert knocks frantically on the side door and the brother comes. I don’t want to go in the house. All I can think is I can’t get blood all over their house. Robert and the brother convince me to run for the bathroom just across the room. Robert is with me. My hand is over the sink. It has several bleeding gashes. Robert is holding the long gushing gash in my palm with his thumb yelling at the brother to call 911. I look at my hand. My pinkie lies dormant with the body fat winking at me. Blood spews from underneath Robert’s thumb as he tries to compress the cut artery. The brother runs to the party for help while Robert is on the phone with 911. I hear him order an ambulance then answer a series of questions “Yes, she is conscious,” “Yes, she is standing,” etc. I am yelling at each reply, “Yes I AM CONSCIOUS! SEND A GODDAMN AMBULANCE!!” not realizing that one has already been dispatched. I hear “Mommy??!!” to my right. I look and see my 4 ½ year old daughter standing on a kitchen chair. Blood is spattered wildly all over the floor around her. She is pale, shaky and scared. I say in the calmest voice I can muster, “Oh honey, I’m okay. It’s going to be alright.” A friend of mine, the newlywed, comes on the scene with his best man, who happens to be a volunteer fireman and is wearing his fireman t-shirt. Robert and I initially mistake him for the real EMTs coming in the ambulance. My friend thoughtfully grabs Iris and whisks her away taking her outside and away from the bloody frenetic horror show.

Minutes which seem like hours go by as Robert is doing his best to staunch the flow of blood from the many gashes in my hand. Debates are going on about whether they should tourniquet my upper arm. I stare at my gaping ugly wounds and the blood chanting, “Oh, my god, oh my god,” over and over.

The real EMTs arrive at the scene. I see them. They are next to me in that small bathroom. This is real. I start to collapse. My knees just won’t hold me any longer. I sink to the floor and my vision starts to get cloudy. “Stay with me,” orders the handsome muscular black EMT. “I can’t,” I say, “I just need to sit down.” Robert still grasps my hand (or is the EMT now?) I am on the floor in front of the toilet and suddenly I am vomiting. My hand is raised as the EMTs wrap it and I vomit more. They wrap and wrap and my hand feels tight. This is reassuring. Finally they ask if I can walk to the ambulance or do they need to bring in a stretcher. Yes, I can walk.

I am shaky. I walk through the kitchen that is spattered heavily with my blood as the EMT keeps his iron grip on my hand. I walk around the house, following the trail of blood to the garden fence. I see the broken glass. I am in front of the house and look up and see several people from the party two doors down in the driveway to see me off. My friend is holding Iris. I give her the best smile I can muster and say, “I’m alright sweetie,” and step into the ambulance. They give me a saline IV. I throw up again. They do some more wrapping on my hand. Robert will meet me at the hospital. Once they define me as stable, we start. No lights, no siren, no fanfare. “You’re not dyin’!” the EMTs laugh. We chat on the way. “It’s starting to hurt.” “Oh, it’ll hurt.” “Will I lose my finger?” “I don’t think so.” “Do you know someone named Matt Spector? He’s training to be an EMT.” “No, don’t know him.” I vomit. They give me oxygen. They ask me if I had been drinking or doing drugs. “I had a glass of wine with dinner. I am not drunk.” “So you weren’t able to drink the wine before the bottle broke?” “No, it was a gift.” “Too bad!” Ha ha.

We get to the emergency room at Hennepin County Medical Center. I am wheeled through the double doors on a gurney. Doctors come out to look while I am still in the hallway. One wants to take off the bandages and see for himself the damage to my hand. The EMT says, “No, you don’t want to do that, it’s a gusher.” That doctor also asks me if I have been drinking. I am wheeled to a room. I am still vomiting. I have blood coagulating in streams down my legs. I am exhausted and scared I am losing my hand. Once the EMTs had given the duty of putting gross pressure on my hand to the ER nurses, they exit and I never see them again. “Thank you” I call back at them. They barely respond. All in a day’s work.

The ER staff are young and unsmiling. I am given morphine which immediately makes me vomit some more. We wait and wait for hours it seems for an orthopedic specialist to come in who will inspect my hand and advise the next move. No stitches are even put in yet. The morphine makes me quiet and I want to close my eyes. I still feel the painful twitches in my hand and the pressure from the grip of the ER nurse, but I can rest a little. Robert arrives (before the morphine?). He has Iris with him. He brings her in to see that I am alright then realizes that this is no place for a small child. My friends whose house this happened at call and Robert asks them to come pick up Iris. So he waits with her in the family room. Once she is gone he comes to be with me and begins to clean the dried blood off my legs and feet with a damp towel. Finally the specialist arrives. “Can you feel this?” “How about this?” “Can you bend this finger?” “Can you straighten it?” To my amazement I can bend all my fingers, but can’t straighten my pinkie or ring finger. I can’t feel my pinkie or the inside of my index finger and middle finger. I have cut tendons and nerves the specialist tells me. And because of the particular tendons I have cut and their location on the inside of my hand, he is not able to repair them in the ER, and I will have to come back for surgery.

Once he leaves, the ER staff begins to try to find the sliced artery to repair it. They tourniquet my arm between my elbow and my shoulder to cease the blood flow to my hand. Once the blood flow is staunched, they unwrap the hand from its many layers of gauze, and attempt to investigate the long gaping wound in my palm to look for the cut artery. The pressure in my hand and arm becomes unbearable. I start yelling at them to take off the tourniquet. Screaming. They seem annoyed at my outburst. “How much morphine did you give her?” says the head nurse to another nurse. “One something,” says the other. “Give her another one!” she barks. They take of the tourniquet until the morphine is given and I calm down. I vomit again. They put the tourniquet back on and dig some more in my hand. Sometime I watch other times I keep my eyes closed and try to meditate. The pressure is still unbearable, but somehow I am able put it aside. After several minutes, they cannot find the damaged artery so proceed to stitch the wound to create, as they explain, a hematoma under the skin that will stop the bleeding with vast amounts of pressure.

They re-tourniquet my arm and shoot my hand full of Novocain. I try to remain outside of myself. Deep breaths. They put about 50 stitches (it seems) in the inch long gash in my palm. They take off the tourniquet. Blood seeps through the stitches. “Not yet,” they say and put back on the tourniquet. This happens a couple of more times. Finally no blood seeps out. Once that wound is contained, they go to work stitching up the other six wounds in my hand: the one at the base of my pinkie, one at the base of my ring finger, one small one at the base of my middle finger, one on my thumb, one on the left side of my palm, and one at the base of my palm. By the time we are told we can leave leave, it is 1:00am.

Suddenly Robert and I are the only ones in the room where I have been for the last 4 1/2 hours. “Are you sure we can just go?” No one offers me a gurney to the car, or a wheelchair. I am weak and in a morphine haze. We walk out in the street. I am clutching Robert’s arm feeling as though I will collapse any moment. My vision starts going black. I am afraid I am going to pass out on the sidewalk. If the car hadn’t been where it was I would have done so. I sink into the passenger seat. We arrive home and I fall into the living room couch not having the energy to walk up the stairs to my bedroom. I fall into a morphine dreamless stupor until morning.

I am on Vicodin. On Sunday I call my family, my work, some friends to tell them about my hand. My parents say they will come to Minneapolis to help out. Bless them. My friends whose house I bled all over come to visit. They can barely look me in the eye. I feel for them. My hand is bandaged into a white mitt and I have to keep it elevated. I barely move from the living room couch all day. One time I go to the bathroom and while sitting on the toilet I let my hand drop for a moment and I felt this painful surging burping pulse from my hand that nearly makes me pass out it hurts so badly. I stumble back to the couch hoping I won’t vomit on the way and slink back in, elevate my hand and pass out.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I am still not pregnant. This was the last unofficial month we were going to try to get pregnant, "the old-fashioned way." My period is late, so maybe I was a but hopeful for a few hours, but the pregnancy test dashed those hopes. I will try another test tomorrow if the period still doesn't come. I wrote last time about a sense of relief which I am feeling somewhat again now. I am planning my next trimester's classes and looking forward to a full schedule that is now allowed since I have quit my job; wanting to utterly immerse myself in that world of healing and the body.

I am getting more used to the concept that Iris will be my only biological child, although there are other things that I have to write about to make my current reality become more clear. So here it goes:

I am now going to take you back in time to just over two years ago. It was at this time that my husband and I first admitted defeat and went to see a fertility specialist. He was a kindly old gentleman who had dedicated himself and his science to helping women conceive and deliver. An award winning miracle worker. After the consultation and examination, involving an intrauterine ultrasound, his recommendation was to try Clomid first which is an oral medication used to induce regular ovulation. The words I remember most coming out of the sage's mouth was, "Time is not on our side."

It was hell. Emotions hitting the wall and mood swings to left field. I stumble back into the office not pregnant where they discover lo and behold two enormous ovarian cysts that induced the radiologist to utter an audible, "Whoa!" Cysts?? She asked me if I felt any pain. Nope, no pain. Spotting? Nope, not that either. After she and I get over the shock of giant cysts on my ovaries, and she assures me that they were not life threatening (for to me cysts=cancer) she went for further advise while I sit contemplating the growths in my lower half. She returns to tell me that they cannot do an insemination (the next step) this month because of the cysts, and that instead I should go on birth control pills for a month to try to shrink the cysts. Birth Control Pills. That was a stunner. My aim is to get pregnant, don't you see? I ask if women usually get cysts from Clomid. "Sometimes," she says. Not a woman of many words, this one. I begin to get angry, "Why is it prescribed then?" I get nowhere on that argument. I slump into resignation, shocked and appalled at my current situation. This isn't what I bargained for and everyone just goes about their business. THis angers me irrationally yet intensly.

So I went on a birth control pill, angry the whole time. Another precious month flies away. I go back in and the cysts are still there and now they are recommending a procedure called aspiration whereby they put me under and insert a tool with a pin attached into my uterus and up my fallopian tubes to prick the damn cysts to release the liquid held therein. They assure me that once the procedure is done, I will be free and clear to begin the process for insemination ASAP. OK, fine. Let's get it over with. I do the aspiration. I remember that the anesthesiologist was very kind. Overall, the procedure was fine. No lasting discomfort and then I was ready for injectibles and insemination. This could be it!

I prepared. It took me 20 minutes to get that first short needle into my stomach that injected a medication into me to stimulate follicle growth. My husband and I watched the needling videos on our computer over and over before he was ready to jab that longer thicker needle into my ass for ovulation. We went in at our designated times on the day of the insemination, and then waited. No pregnancy.

I went in for another examination. More cysts. Must wait another month before insemination can happen again, or another aspiration, or we give up. They told me I must produce these cysts regularly. Could this by why do don't get pregnant? They can't answer that. It's amazing to me how often I am reminded of little we truly know about our bodies. It makes sense to me that cysts could prevent the body from doing it's god-given function and allowing me to conceive. The cysts could even mean that I am not ovulating at all. But, of course, no one could tell me for sure.

I was angry and frustrated. My general mood was dour. The summer had been wasted with Clomid haze, knowledge and worry of cysts, impatience, disappointment, frustration, and lack of control over my body and function. It was now fall and I had to keep waiting or make the decision to stop with the procedures, the poking and prodding, and the needles. But I am 39 and we tried our way for years with no baby. Back and forth. Back and forth. I am spent, tired, angry and I still have to go to work, face my clients and colleagues, cook dinner for and be a supportive member of my family. I go on.

The next step is Jenny and Dave's wedding. A great event in and of itself. We dress up and have a great time. But this event will always remain as a milestone in my life's events for reasons that I will relay in my next entry. Stay tuned, I'll be back.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

This morning I was at a volunteer appreciation breakfast at my daughter's school where I have been volunteering in her kindergarten classroom each Friday for the last eight months. Another mother/volunteer asked me if Iris was my only daughter, and I said yes. No disclaimers of still trying, or we're hoping for another one. Just Yes, she's my only one. I nearly cried. How strange. This other mother looked at me intentionally as if I was giving off the vibe that I wanted to say more. But I refused. Yes. This is the first time in four years I was able to answer like that to that particular question, which unfairly is asked all the bloody time. The rest of the day I was off.

During class tonight, I answered a question on a quiz with three of the three muscles that insert in the bicipital groove, when I was only asked to name two, and I got it completely wrong. I advocated for at least half credit for having the correct answer even though I had not followed the directions correctly. But she asked me, "If a child did something wrong even though she knew what the rules were, how would you react." I said, "I think that is an unfair analogy." I was livid. I couldn't look at the teacher for the next fifteen minutes of class.

I worry about my anger sometimes. How easy it is for me to go from zero to a thousand in a matter of seconds. Then I rage for long spells and afterwards I am exhausted. Headachy and shaky as if I had had a seizure. I rage at in justice. Injustice aimed at me and others. I fight other people's battles although I am learning not to for it only gets me trouble. I rage at my husband's unfinished projects or broken promises to clean up his piles of crap (believe me, I am keeping a trash house a bay, more on that later). I rage when people are nasty to others or to me when it is undeserved, then worry that I do the same in my own rageful moments. What we most dislike in others is what we dislike in ourselves, so they say. Was that too cliche? I take baths to calm down. The scalding water overpowering the heat of the anger in every limb. Breath in the steam. Deep breaths. Tai Qi helps. Qi Gong.

I started Tai Qi last October on the recommendation from my acupuncturist. I had taken Tai Qi in Poland back in 1997-98. I loved it then and I love it now. Remember to breathe. Pay attention to the Qi. I don't practice at home as I should because we really don't have the room. My husband is taking the Tai Qi class with me. He is usually the only man and we are the youngest of the students. We are learning the New China form. He needs to work on the waist turns and keeping it slow and deliberate. I need to work on not getting stuck in incorrect routines. Breathe. Must breathe. If I am having a bad day, when I get to Tai Qi and start moving and breathing, I feel the tension, anger or stress falling away. I get lost in the movements that have now become my own. I listen to my breath, feel the warmth build up in my hands. It makes me feel like I am part of something, part of history, perhaps a level of meaning that people have been exploring and embodying for thousands of years. Have I mentioned that I am idealistic? More on that later. I will keep you posted.

Monday, June 1, 2009


I am 41 years old and I am not pregnant. My husband thinks we should try again, "unofficially," or some would say, "the old fashioned way." I am game but hardly hopeful. I first stepped foot into a fertility clinic two years and some months ago after trying for a second child for two years. The journey since that initial visit to the venerated miracle worker of reproductive medicine has led me to hell and back and I want to share my story. Ironically, I feel I am in a better place emotionally and mentally right now, after this last attempt at insemination failed than I have been in the last two. There is a certain amount of relief I feel with the decision to stop trying. As I said I am 41, much older than I ever would have thought I would ever carry a child. But I was open to it, believe me, and we tried. This story contains other elements than my quest for a second child as nothing occurs in a vacuum. One's life continues and things come up to distract and alter course. This story is how all these experiences changed my priorities and my goals; my knowledge of inner strength and healing; my faith in friends, family and the body and mind's ultimate ability to fight and emerge with the iota of sanity you never thought you would regain. I will try not to be cliche with the "life goes on" nonsense. I just want to write about my experiences and maybe people will be interested in them. More later. I'll keep you posted.