Blood Notes

March 24, 2010 at 6:42 am (Uncategorized)

Erm, this round of IVF has taken a slightly dramatic turn the past two days, and I can tell something’s gone awry because of how bloated, fatigued, and spaced out I feel. Looks like I am skidding toward the possibility of developing ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome, and I don’t mind telling anyone who comes to the door: I don’t want any! It sounds really unpleasant, and I’m finding the alleged likelihood of its arrival very rude.

Okay, so in the past 36 or so hours, the IVF drugs have properly slammed me into a wall. I’ve been tracking SO smoothly until now – blithely characterising this cycle as ‘wildly uneventful’ to my friend T just the other day – but yesterday, KAPOW! Total and utter exhaustion kicked in, knocking me insensible. I had to have another blood test yesterday (I was averaging one every 48 hours until today, when I got to have another one), just before experiencing the indescribable joy of a nice probing internal ultrasound first thing, at which point Nurse E exclaimed, “Well, there’s a lot going on in there, isn’t there?! Sorry if this is uncomfortable” – it was – “but there’s not a lot of room left!” – all this before 9 am and my first coffee of the day – no wonder I wilted.

When another nurse called yesterday afternoon with the results, she said my oestrogen level was right off the charts. How was I feeling, she wanted to know. “Tired,” I admitted.

“I bet,” she said, “and probably pretty bloated by now too!”

She sounded almost gleeful about the prospect, which I must say I still prefer to Nurse T’s approach today, which has been to put the fear of a vengeful fertility goddess in me by listing all the vile ways in which I will ‘likely’ develop a full-blown case of OHSS. Now, look, there’s no point worrying about contingencies, that’s just not my style even though it is clearly Nurse T’s, so I’m just going to do as I’ve been doing (well, ever since overdoing my robust seizing of the day last Saturday): take it very, very easy. Running is apparently out, which is fine because the mere thought makes me yawn and slide beneath my desk. And I now have to drink at least 3 litres of water a day, which wouldn’t be a problem except for my Varuna Alumni News deadline – it’s hard focusing on everyone’s latest successes when all I really want to do is dash to the toilet at half-hour intervals.

Which is unfortunate for another reason. While yesterday I wouldn’t have said I was really all that bloated – just settle down Nurse T, I think someone’s getting a little over-excited – going to the toilet had already started making my ovaries hurt. I’m not kidding, I can feel them grouching away in there. Throbbing, an increasingly sullen duo, actively plotting to join a plainly hostile union movement that’s silently growing in a dark meeting place somewhere deep in my body. Damned rebels. So now I’m under doctor’s orders to increase my water intake, it’s at least twice the fun. Who’s a lucky girl, then?

This morning after my blood test, Nurse T said there was a good chance this cycle would be cancelled. All day I’ve waited to have that confirmed, and if she was wrong about that – which she was, because they called to say I’m now scheduled to go in for collection on Friday – then I say she can be wrong about a whole host of other hit predictions too. Fact is, they won’t know or decide the way forward until after the collection, just like they didn’t know until later on today what my blood would say. But one thing is indisputable: the nurses are all really concerned about me. And that’s a little unnerving. It’s not just Nurse T. Nurse M picked up the phone at one point, and I like her, we bonded over Lionel Shriver in my first round, so I identified myself and asked how she was doing. “Oh my god, you poor thing, how are you doing?” she said, her voice full of worry. Then Nurse T came on the line. “Oh, we’ll be keeping a very close eye on you,” she said, and I know she meant it to be reassuring. Guess this round isn’t proving to be so wildly uneventful after all.

Although I read everyone else’s blogs last night, and I’m all up to date, I actually started and then deleted comments on about four of them, because I really have exceedingly low energy right now, and I found myself paralysed each time. Like the tracks beneath my train of thought just petered out, and I came grinding to a halt in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Truthfully, it’s all I can do dragging this post out of myself while trying to finish the Alumni News before deadline, so with your kind permission, I’ll be taking a little break from the blog. Just a few days – I’ll be back Monday 29 March, how does that sound? Thanks for bearing with me, keep your fingers crossed if you’ve got any going spare, and please take care. Back soon! xxx


  1. kate said,

    Everything crossed, and much love- as always- heading your way!! We’ll be fine to amuse ourselves for awhile 🙂

    • doctordi said,

      Thanks, Kate – and I hate missing out on all the fun!

  2. charlotteotter said,

    Pressing thumbs for you Di (which is what Germans do) and don’t come back until you’re good and ready. Take all the time you need to follow your body and its need for rest.

    • doctordi said,

      Pressing thumbs – I like the sound of that, Charlotte – it has the same verbal resonance as “touching noses,” and sounds equally gentle and endearing. They’re both good titles for something…

      Anyway, thank you, I am listening very keenly to my body, and it is speaking up!

  3. litlove said,

    Oh my goodness! Do take the very best care of yourself that you can. Don’t let Nurse T grind you down!

    • doctordi said,

      Thanks, dear LL. I really have spent a LOT of time utterly and uncharacteristically prone! I’m avoiding Nurse T like my life depends on it, and so far that’s working wonders for me.

  4. Lilian Nattel said,

    Take good care of yourself and we’ll see you when you’re back. Sending good thoughts your way.

    • doctordi said,

      Thanks, Lilian. I honestly think you’ve collectively done the trick!!! Thank you!

  5. Grad said,

    Please rest and recharge. We’ll be here when you return. Prayers and love coming at you from Savannah.

    • doctordi said,

      I don’t know what you’ve done, Graddikins, or who you know in what places, but just keep doing it, thanks, Savannah style! xx

  6. Pete said,

    And from Cape Town. It’s a veritable global circle of concern and love. Wishing you lots of R&R.

    • doctordi said,

      Pete, thanks, and yes, it really is! A bit of an international virtual vigil, really – I’d *never* pull these numbers from a hospital bed! (let’s not test that theory…)

  7. davidrochester said,

    Be good to yourself — rest up, and see if you can talk those ovaries into a more reasonable frame of mind.

    • doctordi said,

      David, I don’t think they were open to negotiation by the time the relevant authorities stormed the picket line. I think they were beaten into submission.

  8. Norwichrocks said,

    Oh Di, it sounds ghastly, but you just get plenty of rest and drink plenty of water and hopefully those ovaries will calm the heck down in there.

    I suspect that nobody other than someone who has experienced the same thing is going to really know how it feels, so I hope there are some good internet support blogs and whatnot for you to check in with?

    And I’m sure the Varuna folks will more than understand if you need some time just to lie down in a dark room and groan, rather than writing the alumni news to the deadline. Just as we wish you well over the next few days while you gird those loins for the fray once again.


    • doctordi said,

      NR, so much water. So, so much water. Sooooo much water. My stomach grew tight as a drum. And then the dam, it did burst.

      Yes, Varuna folk were very understanding! I pushed my deadline out until today, which was great.

      Thank you – internet support blogs? Whaddya call this?! I have no need of others!

  9. Samantha said,

    Oh dear dear Di, not the dreaded OHSS!

    Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) is a rare and potentially life-threatening complication of an IVF cycle. OHSS can occur when the ovaries have over responded to the Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH). In this instance, the ovaries produce an excessive number of follicles and become markedly enlarged. The overall incidence of OHSS is reported to be less than 10% while the incidence of severe OHSS is 0.2 – 1%. Thankfully it sounds as though you are not in the severe category as you would have been hospitalised by now. Still, I can quite imagine that you have been in a lot of pain. With my last cycle (#11), I had 4 follicles developing and they caused me some pain, so I cannot imagine what many many more follicles would feel like! (Naturally, your body would only produce one dominant follicle so growing and accommodating more than one is not something your body does easily nor painlessly.)

    I hope that the ovum pick up was a success in allowing your E2 (oestrogen) levels to return to normal over the coming days/weeks.

    My friend whom I commenced IVF with over a year ago got OHSS during her first cycle. Her risk factors were her young age and polycystic ovaries. She was however on the lowest possible dose of FSH. After much pain she proceeded to ovum pick up; she subsequently recovered and her bub is due in June. So all is not necessarily lost. However, the most important thing is for your E2 levels to return to normal. And should you need to enter cycle #3, then less aggressive stimulation with the FSH should be seriously considered by your doc (assuming of course that you are not on the lowest possible dose).

    However, unbelievable as it may sound, there is good news in all of this, OHSS is an indicator of high fertility!

    Best wishes,


    • doctordi said,

      GULP – gosh, Samantha, that kind of talk can scare a girl!! But thank you, because I do think it’s so important that people understand these things for what they can be, and if anyone stumbles across DoctorDi and this post in their own search for answers, I am so glad there will be some factual information for them thanks to you, rather than just my wholly subjective experience and anecdotal insights!!

      Thank you, you were spot on, so let’s hope you’re right about the rest too!

  10. Jenny said,

    I’m so sorry Di!,
    I’m compelled to say though, throughout your ordeal, the quality of your writing has soared along with your follicle count. Talk about finding humour in diversity! I have a vivid mental picture of the gleeful nurse and the terrifyingly over-concerned nurse, and the vengeful fertility goddess. Just brilliant. I wish you were feeling as brilliant as your writing is. And don’t mind Sam and her ‘rare and potentially life threatening complication business’. She’s always been such a worrier!
    Love Jenny and take care xx

    • doctordi said,

      Oh, thank you, Jenny – so glad you think so! That’s a bit of a miracle, really. I think they’re all such vivid characters to me because it’s such a mental and physical process/ordeal, so everything about it is sort of deep-etched, which is why I especially love the idea that I have managed to convey even a fraction of that here – thank you for thinking so.

      Well, Sam’s very good to worry about me – although yes, I’m glad I didn’t read that until the worst was already over!!!

  11. Jenny said,

    I meant adversity. you knew that.

    • doctordi said,

      I did. Although I do think there’s enormous humour in diversity.

  12. Samantha said,

    Hello Di,

    Yes well I didn’t mean to scare you witless and my apologies if I did. My comments were aimed at educating those who don’t know what OHSS is. It can be fatal in less than 1% who have the extreme form, but as I rightly gathered based on what you said on your blog, yours was a mere (!) moderate form (just imagine what the extreme form feels like.)

    As with all medical treatment, there are side effects and risks, particularly when taking drugs. IVF is no exception. Thankfully for most of us, side effects are minimal. However, for a very small number of women, the risks are life threatening. For those interested in a recent case of a UK woman who died from OHSS see

    IVF is a very intense experience which for many different reasons, often results in one experiencing the extremes of one’s humanity.

    As a matter of interest, what daily dose of FSH were you on?

    Here’s wishing those 9 embryos continued cell division over night and your continued recovery.

    Best wishes,


    • doctordi said,

      No, no, not at all – I know the information is provided with a view to educating others, Sam, and I do really appreciate that – apologies if that wasn’t clear in my earlier comment!

      I started off on 112, then was reduced to the lowest dose, 37.5. And I only had half the trigger injection dose.

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