The Journey So Far…My egg retrieval

Look at all of those follicles!
I started this blog in the middle of my “cancer journey” (I hate that I just used that phrase). So here’s the rundown so far.

The first thing I had to do was freeze my eggs. My treatment will more than likely kill or damage my eggs, so I had to make a quick decision if I wanted to freeze my eggs. Due to the timing of my period, I had to make a choice within a few days of my first appointment. When I had my initial appointment, they went over the process and the hardest part was hearing about the financial aspect.

I learned that the process of preserving fertility for cancer patients is not covered by insurance and everything would have to be paid out-of-pocket. Despite the fact that I was fertile and would be made infertile by my cancer treatment, made me very upset. My insurance would pay for a wig when I lose my hair due to chemo, but it didn’t care that they were going to take away my chances to have a child.

I made the decision to go through with it, but I’m always thinking about the financial impact this will have on me.

Trigger shot time!
The process of egg retrieval is fascinating. On the second day of your period you go to the doctor and have a ultra sound and blood test to check your hormone levels, ovaries and your uterus. That day you also start injections. I had to inject the medicine in my stomach in the morning and evening. The meds help supplement the body’s reproductive process by stimulating the ovaries to increase the chance that multiple follicles (where the eggs live) grow. While all of this was going on, I had to go to the doctor every two days to check the size of my follicles, my hormone levels and the lining of my uterus. Meanwhile I was getting more and more bloated and more uncomfortable. After about a week, I added a second evening shot–to make sure that I did not ovulate. Once my follicles were big enough, the doctor told me to inject the trigger shot, which told my follicles to release my eggs, and 36 hours later I had go in for the actual egg retrieval procedure.

The injections were grueling. You have to do them at certain times of the day. There were multiple times that I was working an NBA game and I had to give myself my shot in the bathroom of the arena. One night, the plumbing went down and I had to go to the public restroom–that was a shit show and I was very flustered giving myself the three shots in the open. The shot in the morning–Menopur–stung, but it wasn’t half as bad as the Ovidrel. The first time I used it, it stung enough to make me cry. As soon as I injected it, I had a red spot that grew as the medicine spread. A few minutes later it started to hurt and itch. It was a combination of bad things and I lost it. That wasn’t the only time I lost it–my hormones were out of control!

The egg retrieval process is very quick. I arrived at the office and they put my IV in and I was given a light sedative. They use the drug that they give you when you get your wisdom teeth taken out. I was awake for the whole procedure, but I don’t remember much. They used the same vaginal ultra sound machine and put a needle on the end of it. That was inserted inside my uterus and poked a hole to each of my ovaries to take out my eggs. In total, they took out 16 eggs. The next day, they told me that two were very mature, four were discarded and 10 would mature in the lab.

The recovery was ok. I was still bloated for a few days and the cramping was not fun. The worst part of the whole thing was the way the hormones made my face break out. It has been three weeks since my retrieval and I still look like a 16 year-old teenager. Now I have a bumpy face AND cancer–I’m really living the dream now!