Wednesday, January 20, 2010

We're gonna need some industrial strength Draino in here!

Note: I am delving into my journey (and I guess that’s what it will now be called) to have a child because my difficulties are, in part, related to my Crohn’s. No more, no less.

I’m going to try to avoid any further Draino references…but it’s hard. Yesterday I had my HSG. You know, the test where you the doc shoots some dye up through your cervix and down your fallopian tubes to ensure they are clear and an egg can travel down to (hopefully) be fertilized. First off, I would like to say the radiologist was beautiful in a “I’m a 2nd year resident and a little awkward but I’m tall and endearing” sort of way. He had me at “Hello, are you Ms. Hopkins?”, and if I were not married (oh, and trying to have a baby), I would have surely made sure to glance at his left hand to see if he was married. Secondly, my fabulous doctor asked if I’d mind if her med student watched the procedure. Maybe some women would balk at the thought of lying naked (from the waist down) on a table with your legs spread and a 24-year-old boy watching, shifting his weight from one foot to the other. But that is not me. “I have Crohn’s: there is no indignity I haven’t faced, so no problem, bring him in!” I said theatrically with a swish of my arm. So it was me spread eagle, a petite little radiology tech, my doctor, the goofy-looking (sorry, Brendan – that was his name) med student, and the gorgeous (in the nerdy way I like) radiologist. The more the merrier, I say. Of course, I immediately got down to business and asked the really important question: “Will this hurt?”

“You will have bad cramping – and you won’t like me for a bit – but it’s over in a minute,” my doctor replied. That would have been fine, but the woman lied. First they insert the speculum and then they wash your cervix. This is cold but no biggie, and women who have had children are probably thinking, “Get over yourself, sissy.” Fine, I deserve that. They then attach a big syringe-thing (I know, you’re like, “Where did this woman learn all this medical jargon?!”) into this long metal thing and insert it so the tip is through your cervix. Still no biggie. Then they say, “Okay, we’re starting” and start releasing dye into ye ol’ tubes. This is when I screeched, “You LIED!!” to my doctor, “This hurts!”. The rad tech was patting my shoulder and saying it was just another minute, and the radiologist had the x-ray machine above my pelvic area and was snapping photos. Everyone was looking at the screen and saying, “Oh, look at that, it filled beautifully” (thank you), but then, “I don’t see anything in her right tube”. Upon not seeing any dye they pumped more in and I am not lying: I have never felt worse abdominal cramping. My abdomen felt like it was expanding and contracting and it was very reminiscent of my severe Crohn’s episodes that sent me to the Percocet. I’ve heard this test is no big deal, it doesn’t really hurt, so I kept my mouth shut this time. After all, there was a cute radiologist in my presence – no need to make a scene. (Later in the day I read it is indeed painful if there is blockage, so I feel somewhat validated for my outburst.) In about a minute it was over – but the horrible cramping persisted for the next two hours or so – and I got my verdict: One of my tubes is clogged. I have a dud tube. (These are my words.)

The fallopian tube that wasn’t functioning is probably scarred and blocked by scar tissue, which may have been present long before my surgery, or not, due to the rampant inflammation in my pelvic area. I got off the table – blood trickling down my leg (“spotting” is normal after an HSG) – and got dressed. And this is the upshot: We are waiting for the results of my Day 3 (as in cycle) blood work – taken last week – and Matt’s, how do I put this?, oh, yes, semen analysis. If both are normal (I am indeed ovulating, and Matt’s sperm can indeed swim), I will be put up to three months of Clomid, which is a fertility drug, and if that doesn’t work, I will leave my ob/gyn’s care and go to a fertility specialist immediately. If any of these tests come back with a “hit”, we are going directly to the fertility specialist. She said if I do get pregnant on Clomid, I am a high-risk pregnancy because of the Crohn’s, but more particularly, because of this dummy of a tube (again, my words). Apparently, my chances of an ectopic pregnancy are much greater, so I will have to be closely monitored for the first few months. She said the fertility doctors may want to remove the clogged tube proactively due to the risk, or look into attempting to repair the tube – and remove the scar tissue – laparoscopically.

I got into my car and called Matt. Because he is Matt, he took this news as good news: “Hey, you have one good tube!” he said. We have dealt with so much disappointment, things like this aren’t wholly bad news, and in reality, it isn’t. One functioning tube is huge, and with fertility meds, can be as good as two. But I see it as the beginning of another round of tests and doctors (and possible surgery) and a whole new set of concerns. Hell, I’m frustrated. I'm sad. And very bitter than men do not have to go through this. I have also caught myself, with black mascara tears running down my face, saying, “I hope women who can easily have children realize how fortunate they are!” with rancor in my voice. This is when Matt tells me to calm down, and it will happen for us…eventually. He then asks if I want some chocolate or candy, because, like a child, I am pacified by sweets.

So now I’m just waiting for our other test results. I want to get a move on – get started on next steps, and get “Operation Baby” underway. Until then I suppose I’ll simply look in envious adoration at young families at the grocery store. With that said: someone please keep me away from Babies ‘R’ Us.


  1. Oh my god! That freaks me out. Do you know if the damage to your tube was from the activity of the Crohn's or from surgery or what?

    Wow, my surgery vs Remicade decision just got harder. Heh.

    I hope you have some luck soon. I imagine this is a pretty scary process - though it sounds like you guys have a good sense of humour about it. :)

  2. Hi Bright Side,

    There is no way (I least at this point) to determine if the scar tissue is from the surgery, but odds are, it isn't. I had a big, fat abscess wedged between my pelvic bone and my fallopian tube (alert!), and it may stem from that, and not the surgery itself. My intestines were a mess last year, too, and to quote my dashing surgeon, "It looks like a bomb went off in there!" I hope my story doesn't muddle your decision any further, but I wanted to document it because although Crohn's doesn't directly affect fertility, what it leaves behind can still hinder the process. (Did I mention how much I hate this disease?!)

    We're trying to remain upbeat - my situation is pretty typical and nothing acutely alarming yet - but it's been difficult...and I fear it's only beginning. It could always be worse. :)

    PS: Keep us updated your on your dr. visits and decision! Good luck!

  3. Kathryn,
    I went through a very similar situation when I tried to get pregnant. Now keep in mind that I am different than you and I have had many more abdominal surgeries than you have. I tried the Clomid and developed numerous painful cysts on both of my ovaries and had to stop it after one month. It played havoc with my emotions too but some of that was because I was trying for three years to get pregnant and it wasn't happening. I evenually had to have a hysterectomy because of Crohn's and all the scar tissue going on in my abdominopelvic cavity. But I also know a lot of people who have taken Clomid and had no problems and got pregnant the first month they were on it. Just don't freak out if your emotions go all over the place and you develop cysts. That all being said, I was never able to get pregnant and we ended up adopting a little girl when she was 6 years old. She is 10 now. There are other options but I do know how frustrating this journey that you are on is and please know I am here if you need to vent or talk or just need someone who understands. I really do. I'm praying for you and wishing you the best. I totally believe you will get pregnant with no complications and have a beautiful family....and soon!!!

  4. I really, really hope you can do it. You're like a trailblazer for me. Thom and I want kids, but we know that we may not be able to naturally concieve. I'm always hearing of people who have babies with Crohns. So it is possible. I guess just stay away from mtvs lameo teen mom;) good luck!!!

  5. Jenni,
    Thank you you so much for your comment - I cried when I read that. I'm not close with anyone in my personal life who has Crohn's, let alone who has Crohn's and fertility issues. Your comment meant more than you know, and you can bet I'll probably be reaching out down the line! Thank you for being so candid regarding what you went through...I'll definitely (of course!) keep you updated. Having this little Crohn's community online, however silly this sounds, has been so theraputic.

    I have yet to watch Teen Mom...not because I'm against trashy tv (oh, I watch A LOT of trashy TV), but mainly because I've been so enthralled with "Jersey Shore". And I don't think I've ever, ever been called a I'm sort of relishing in that! I'll definitely keep everyone updated on what happens...good and bad!!!! Thanks for your well wishes!!!

  6. Kathryn and Jenni,

    I agree whole heartedly - this little community we have here in our corner of the web is such a valuable support and has helped me through troubled times too. If we all stay strong and positive we can all find happiness in whatever form it may be. We should all remember that sometimes what you _thought_ would bring you happiness doesn't happen, but something totally different comes to you and fills you with joy. Sometimes it's even just looking around us and seeing that we have so much joy already in our lives. I'm sure we'll all come through our trials better and stronger than ever!

  7. Well said! I'll have to remember that next time I start crying to Matt and saying, "Your life is so much easier than mine!!" (on the work front / the medical front / the everything front!!!) It can always be worse, and I've been very fortunate in many ways. (I feel like we were just in an inspirational huddle and now have to shout "Go team!".)