Jul 19, 2011


Well, there is it. Might as well get straight to it. I knew last week it was going to be negative. I started to have premenstrual syndrome symptoms on Thursday and Friday and it just kept getting more clear over the weekend. And last night was the clincher. Full on menstrual cycle. Dr. K ordered me to take a pregnancy test regardless so I took one this morning knowing it would be negative and it was. Of course I am disappointed. Each day the PMS symptoms occured Roger and I would talk about it and I would have a little cry. I think that's the only reason I am not down in the dumps today. I would be sad because not only did the symptoms mean I wasn't pregnant but it also meant I would have to keep trying. Of course it would be super easy to be pregnant and done with all the drugs, blood tests, ultrasounds and IUI. But it can't always be easy. Life isn't easy. But I do know God is still right by my side going through this with me. He told me so just this morning. After I tested and was reflecting on my feelings I started talking to God about it all. That would also be called praying. I felt comfort in knowing he's there for me always. I even thought about what scripture I should read about God giving me strength and encouragement to get through the tough stuff. So I headed to the office to grab my phone and text my sister with the news. Of course I sat down at the computer to see what email I had to start my day and on my monitor the first thing I saw was my Bible verse of the day. I am always intrigued to see what it is as God has used that Bible verse of the day widget so many times to give me the scripture I need. And today was Isaiah 41:10.

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

How appropriate. Just what I needed to read. It's still going to be a great day. Dr. K's office just called me back. Since the chemo drugs will be out of Roger's system next Monday, he has ordered Roger to have another semen analysis for Tuesday and for me to call back on my next day one. I think it will be good to have some time to know what to do next. We would have had to make a decision today about the next steps for drugs, blood tests, ultrasounds, IUI and/or try naturally, etc but we wanted Dr. K's expert opinion on it first. And I would like some time to pray about it. I thought we were going to have to decide today. I am glad we don't have to now. ~Holly

Jul 14, 2011

Brain MRI Results July 2011

We went to MD Anderson in Houston for a post-surgery MRI on Monday and on Tuesday we saw Dr. Conrad, my Neuro-Oncologist. He said that everything looks good and they do not see any signs of the tumor. The cavity that was left after the tumor was resected has filled in a bit and it looks like the swelling has reduced significantly. All of this is great news! The doctor was pleased with my progress and we go back in three months for another MRI, which will be in October 2011. At that time we will also visit with a Radiation-Oncologist to see what their thoughts are regarding radiation therapy. All in all, great news as we expected.

This week I also discussed my progress in physical therapy with my therapist, Jacqueline. I am meeting and/or exceeding many of the goals that she set for me three months ago. As a result, we will be moving from three one hour PT sessions a week to just two starting in August. This is important because I will start working full time again in late July and this will allow me to start working at a more regular time three days a week instead of two. I will still need to focus on exercising at home at least thirty minutes a day, which I always don’t want to do, so please pray for me on that one.

Physically, I feel fine and am rarely napping anymore. My energy level is much higher and we recently had the wheelchair that we were renting picked up as we didn’t feel that we needed it any longer. I am no longer using the cane and can walk fairly well on my own. I am still lacking strength in my hamstring and ankle, and don’t seem to have any voluntary movement in my toes or the ability to move my foot side to side, those losses are a bummer, but life will go on because I’ll be able to walk better and better even without those functions.

Thanks for checking in once again. I should get the new MRI images next week and will post pics from it when I get a moment.


Jul 10, 2011

Back to MD Anderson for follow-up

I have to make this a short one. I’ve been doing very well and am getting stronger every day. I’m still doing physical therapy three days a week from 8-9am. My therapist, Jacqueline, is a master. She is young but very creative and always knows how to challenge me, which I like. She is a Godsend! I started back to work (at home) a few weeks ago… four hours a day at first. This last week I bumped up to six hours per day. I go back to a full time schedule in late July. PT along with work has been challenging for me to stay energized all day long. I have to remember to eat well and get rest when I can. Amazingly, I am not napping during the day at all anymore, which means my endurance level is picking up.

Tomorrow and Tuesday (7/11-12) we head back to MD Anderson in Houston for a follow-up MRI and visit with my Neuro-Oncologist, Dr. Conrad. We pray that tumor has not grown back… will you pray with us? We have decided against doing radiation therapy this time around because my gains in PT are still very significant. Once I plateau, we’ll start with the radiation. I’ll post again later this week with the results of our visit. Thanks everyone! We feel your prayers.


Jul 9, 2011

So What Happened?

Okay, sorry we didn't blog after our last post. We got distracted and forgot. Well, we did get very busy. Anywho, we went in for the ultrasound on Monday, July 4th after another night of Follistim shot. My three eggs were now 20.8mm, 19.1mm and 21.5mm and the endometrium was 10.7mm. That was a lot of growth from the day before. Dr. K decided we were doing the IUI Tuesday regardless of the estrogen levels but I had to go give some blood samples just so they would know for the future what the levels were. So we drove up to St. David's Main again and gave blood real fast. Then we headed home and packed for a day at Lake Marble Falls with family and new friends. It was great. You can see pictures from the day by clicking on the image above. My pictures of the fireworks are awful so just imagine they were good. Dr. K called me later but I was out on a boat or in the lake and missed his call. He left a voicemail that my estrogen level was 270. So it more than doubled. It wasn't the 400 he was looking for but it was better and we were going through with the IUI the next morning anyway. I did ask him the next day what the estrogen level meant and he said it showed the quality of the eggs themselves. At full maturation they should be about 150 each for best results.

So the IUI happened the next morning about 10:30am. Roger was there with me which was nice. We waited our obligatory 10 minutes after laying down with my bottom elevated. We had time to pray before the procedure then more time after for more prayer. I have to wait to take a pregnancy test at home on July 19th. So until then, thanks for the prayers and keep on praying. Of course it would be nice to not have to do this again, but we will do whatever God wants us to do. Thanks for the love and support, Holly

Jul 3, 2011

Side Effects and Timing

Every medication and drug has a long list of side effects. Even common drugs like Tylenol have a list of side effects. So you know fertility drugs are going to have an even longer list and more intense side effects if Tylenol has a long list. I rarely get any side effects from drugs or medications, but these fertility pills and shots were a different story. At first the Femara just caused hot flashes and night sweats. Day two brought on severe back pain only on one side. It was almost unbearable. Tylenol just dulled the pain. Then came pain on the other side of my back, leg and arm pain, headache, more hot flashes, night sweats, joint and muscle pain, sleeplessness, tiredness, and a few others I'll leave off here. And the last night of the pills I had to add a shot of Follistim. I thought it was going to be a doozy of a night of side effects, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Just really tired. And over the course of the three days of shots it wasn't bad except sudden jarring pain in the abdomen that would go away. So over all not too bad for side effects. Although a few times I was wondering what the heck I was doing to my body. Thank goodness I didn't have any of the "call the doctor right away" rare side effects. Those are actually kind of scary such as numbness of arm or leg, one sided weakness, shortness of breath, dizziness or fainting to name a few.

So the timing of my cycle proved to be interesting also. The ultrasound to see if my eggs were ready for the Ovidrel shot so they can release ended up being on Sunday, July 3rd which meant the IUI might be on Monday, July 4th. If the eggs were ready, we would need to have the frozen sample for the IUI, but we wouldn't know that until Sunday. And we didn't realize all of these timing issues until Friday, July 1st. So I rushed to call the cryobank to find out when and if they were open over the holiday weekend. Not only were they not going to be open on July 4th but they are never open on weekends. And they usually need 24 hours to get a frozen sample ready for pick-up. I was calling them on the day I needed pick up late in the morning. But they made it happen and I picked up the liquid nitrogen canister filled frozen sample on Friday afternoon. It's good until next Friday in the event we don't use it on Monday after all, we would have a few more days depending on my eggs and hormone levels.

Timing can be a tricky deal when it comes to eggs and hormones and insemination. This morning we went for the ultrasound. And not only were we pleasantly surprised but Dr. K was also really excited to see I had quite a few mature eggs. There were two eggs on the right side (the tried and true, always dependable side) which were 16.9mm and 16.3mm. And the left side had a very mature egg at 17.8mm. They like the eggs to be at least 17mm in size. And my uterine lining aka endometrium was 9.1mm thick which was way above where they like it to be. He said it was prime makings for fertilization and implantation. But we had to go have lab tests done to see if my estrogen and progesterone levels were high enough. So we drove up to St. David's Main Hospital north of downtown Austin to give some blood. If the levels were good, the plan was for Roger to give me the Ovidrel shot tonight after midnight to give the eggs a little more time to grow. They grow about 2mm a day. Then we would do the IUI Tuesday morning. Which turned out to be good since it wouldn't alter our 4th of July plans with family.

But Dr. K just called us and told us my estrogen levels were really low. They would like them to be near 400 or higher since there are three mature eggs about 150 each. But it was at 125. The progesterone was good. So the new plan now is to do one more shot of Follistim tonight then have another ultrasound and blood tests tomorrow morning at 10:15am. If the estrogen is higher we'll do the IUI Wednesday morning. If it's really high, there's a better chance for all three eggs. If it's just slightly higher that means there's only a chance for one egg. But we'll do the IUI anyway and see if fertilization and implantation occurs. If it doesn't happen this cycle then we'll know a little more information for next time. And my next cycle should be around the week when the chemo drugs will be out of Roger's system.

Tomorrow's ultrasound and blood tests will most likely affect all our plans for Independence Day, but we were prepared for them to get messed up anyway. And it would be worth it if we got pregnant. So any prayers for test results and timing would be awesome. Thanks so much! ~ Holly