Risk Factors

I went to a new gynecologist today. I hate going to a new gynecologist, because of all the explaining and forms that don't have enough space for the trauma my reproductive system both received and inflicted. 

But, when your current gynecologist is in international news for biologically fathering quite a few children with his own sperm while telling parents that it was from a university sperm donor, even if that happened in the 1980s, you need to find a new practice. (Seriously. I can imagine he never thought a service like 23 & Me would exist in the future, that people looking to see their ethnic heritage would find out that they're actually 50% unethical doctor.) 

So I went on a colleague's recommendation and went to a new practice that I was assured would not be led by a Sperminator nor be a shrine to pregnancy and breastfeeding, like one practice I briefly went to at the tail end of infertility treatments. It was a very pleasant building, lots of lilac purple and gender-affirming signage. 

But man oh man, I hate those forms. I stopped listing all the IVF-related surgical procedures individually and just labeled it "2010 - 2015 -- oodles of egg retrievals, hysteroscopies, perincentesis due to OHSS." Somewhere I have the complete list, but I don't think it's necessary anymore. I list my hysterectomy, my ectopic laparoscopy, my laparoscopy in 1999 that was exploratory to rule out endometriosis (the male doctor didn't find any, so he told me "some women just have pain" and dismissed me. I found a new doctor.). I hate listing two pregnancies and no live births. I did find my blog useful in looking up the dates, which I'm grateful to say I don't hold all the time anymore. I found my camera roll helpful in remembering exactly when my hysterectomy was (2019). 

After writing it all out, I got to explain it again verbally. I was already exhausted from the forms, so I got teary. It's just so much to hold when you have to recount it all at once. 

But, it was interesting, because I asked about getting an ultrasound of my ovaries as part of my exam since I am worried about ovarian cancer given the massive amount of hormones I've pumped myself full of and the insane number of follicles I've stimulated in a relatively short time. I expected her to possibly pooh-pooh me and maybe humor me but make it clear this was my anxiety talking. 

Instead, she said, "That's perfectly reasonable. You are right to be concerned. Make sure you get a mammogram regularly and we can baseline your ovaries and check them. That's perfectly rational." 

WHAT THE HELL. I mean, I know I'm not totally nuts to be worried, but it was somewhat sobering to have my fears validated. Not catastrophized, but validated. 

PLEASE ASK YOUR DOCTOR ABOUT CHECKING YOUR OVARIES if you've done a fair amount of follicle stimulation during infertility treatments. It's worth the ask. I will take all the peace of mind I can get. She also said that most breast cancer cases are people who have no family history, and to be vigilant about checking my breasts and even if I've had a recent clear mammogram call if there's anything fishy. 

I really enjoyed this new doctor. She took me seriously, no one in her staff said anything stupid, not even "did you think about adoption?" I may have verbally vomited all over the ultrasound technician, but she was empathetic and not judgy at all. It's always fun to be asked when your last menstrual period was and then reply "early spring 2019, before my hysterectomy." It's weird that the only thing they can look at is ovaries, and for some reason it was hard to find them. I guess that's better than finding them right away because they're ginormous and tumor-y? 

One more advice piece I got -- Vitamin D3. Take it. It's apparently vital for immune function and helps fight against all the cancers I'm most scared of (breast, ovarian, colon). Good for bones too, can't absorb calcium without it. I always mean to take it and then am terrible about remembering, but she recommended Vitafusion gummies. If I have to pretend it's candy, it will be easier to remember. Makes total sense. 

So, get your boobies checked, get your ovaries checked, get a gynecologist who doesn't share DNA everywhere, and then contemplate taking a nap after your appointment because it was so emotionally exhausting. Or, go grocery shopping the day before a snowstorm after because the stress of that experience will take your mind off things, ha. Having a good doctor is everything. I'm so glad I found a new one.

Happy Things

The last post was about so many things gone wrong, and while there was more that made last week difficult, I AM ON VACATION and so I am wrapping myself in a while lot of happiness making. 

Things that are making me happy: 

- during a real hard week, a student and his mom surprised me with a Valentine's Day surprise -- teacher appreciation gifts (a Teaching Is My Heart cup with straw filled with hard candy, a teaching inspirational sign, a "Thanks for helping me grow" notepad with pen, Hershey kisses, and a Beach Escape candle). I literally cried. And then asked my student if I could hug him. It was the sentiment that mattered, not the stuff. That was the first filling of my bucket in a long while this year, and it made me so warm and fuzzy inside. (If you want to make a difference in a teachers life this year, send a note of appreciation, because holy hell that goes a long way!) 

- being in Vermont, in our favorite inn. Proof of vaccination is required or a negative PCR to stay, and you can't dine in the barn without vaccination. People are wearing masks in common areas. It's lovely. 

- a puzzle that is a topographical map of our area with our house in the center. So cool... From LL Bean, a Christmas gift from my mother-in-law. Brought the puzzle to Vermont along with an Owls & Owlets puzzle. 

- Going for a hike in Vermont (trails were all icy and Bryce valiantly offered to go first and promptly dumped it , so we decided to hike up a dirt road. 

- the Northshire Bookstore, a wonderland of gorgeously curated books and goodies. A smattering of my finds:

So many awesome things to fill me with happiness. It helps to focus on the house when the annoying/terrifying pops up:

- a HUGE influx of small children at the inn where typically it's been few and far between, including two tiny babies, one only FOUR WEEKS OLD. It doesn't bother me the way it used to, but it still feels a little like an invasion. And it makes me worried for the tiny vulnerable unvaccinated humans because...

- news of BA2, hopefully we miss it here as there were, like, 6 cases per day in this area, but people come from NYC and Boston areas that are wayyy more populated.  

- the looming school work that waits for me at home. Did not bring any. Trying to cleanse my mind. 

So I focus on this and feel way better:

Obligatory covered bridge shot

Quintessential New England church

Mmm nearly empty boulevardier from last night's dinner... Mmmmmm

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays (that perhaps are more micro than this?)? Go here and enjoy! 

Too Much

A sure sign that I am overwhelmed and stressed is when I start injuring myself in strange ways. 

I've hit my head twice on counters hard enough to leave a bruise and a goose egg, one at home and one at school. 

Then it gets weird.

Not the most flattering photo, but shows the impacts point and blackish eyes from a school incident with a chair. My students love to sit in the "comfy chair" -- a cushy office chair on wheels. They also like to messed with the settings and make it super low. I couldn't get it to come back up sitting on it, so I braced the base with my foot and pulled up as I pulled the lever. Unfortunately the student also tipped the backrest all the way back, and I got that lever by accident. It punched me in the face. I was very lucky that it wasn't a half inch lower or it would have likely broken my nose.

Then, after the Superbowl, I picked Lucky up to bring him to his food, and Bryce dropped a dish in the sink, making a loud noise. Lucky freaked out and...

I'm so lucky he missed my eye. The one by by nose was deep and bled a lot, and the one on my chin got caught and was more of a puncture wound. So now I'm on antibiotics and had to get a tetanus booster. 

Plus my shoulder is still messed up from my fall in November and my PT thinks I might have torn my labrum. 

I'm great. Everything's great. This year is insanely rough. I think the exhaustion makes me susceptible to accidents... The year we ended our parenthood journey had stress induced autoimmune issues, bit also accidents -- I broke a tooth, I fell on the sidewalk outside school, I fell on an ice skating trip. Gosh bodies are smart. I am so grateful for break next week. I need it so I don't literally come apart at the seams.

Smooshing the Girls

I had my mammogram and ultrasound today -- it makes me nervous every single year. I am so afraid that the years of pumping myself full of estrogen are going to bite me one day. I feel like all my lady organs conspire against me in one way or another. 

The mammogram itself wasn't too terribly bad -- the smooshing is not the best feeling in the world, but it doesn't seem to be as uncomfortable as it was the first time. Although, I do wonder if it would look different if men had to stick tender bits into the smashers. Why must everything women's health be squashing and poking and stretching and undignified? 

The technician asked me if there was any chance of pregnancy, and I said an emphatic NO, and she said "okay then," and so I said "no uterus." And then I was able to talk about that without any sort of sadness at all. Which felt insanely freeing. I said it didn't do anything for me, and so good riddance. She said, "but it says stuff about IVF in your notes," and I said, "yes, and that did nothing for me, not really, and damaged my organs in the process, and so I gladly said goodbye to my uterus." She didn't press, she didn't ask me if I'd adopted, she didn't do any of the things that can be possibly well-meaning but also ill-advised. It was awesome. 

Then I had my ultrasound after a wait, and had the stress of that transducer going over the same spot over and over and over again. I have a bunch of cysts near my armpit on both sides, but man it makes me scared when they push, click, push, click, push, click, all in the same spot. 

One more year of breast imaging done, one more year of "everything looks good." May it always be this way! And if you are over 40, please make sure to get your boobies checked. It saves lives. 

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