Before I get to the sonar scans, let me first update you how the injections went and how I’m feeling! Also, I want to be very clear about the fact that our treatment is tailored to our specific situation and circumstances. If you are reading my blog and are also going through fertility treatment or are planning to, don’t be alarmed if your fertility treatment differs to ours. I’m sharing our story here in the hopes that other couples in the same position don’t feel so alone, because I personally couldn’t find much local info on what to expect.
In total, I had to have 10 injections at set times, along with various other meds. The easiest way to administer the injections is to get it all into one syringe. This way you physically only administer one injection that contains all the required doses. As mentioned in my previous post, I had the first 4-doses-in-1 injection administered at a pharmacy and paid a small fee (I think it was something like R30) to have the clinic sister help me and show me how to do it. She also supplied me with needles and syringes to administer the rest of the injections at home. She also offered for me to come and have her do them for me if we felt we couldn’t manage. KB was a trooper and helped me do the remaining injections at home! We muddled through and did OK. I don’t know who was more afraid though, me or him! The first injection he did wasn’t painful, but the second one he did a few days later did hurt. Apparently some areas of the stomach are more sensitive than others, but we made it through.
A day after the first injection I felt a slight discomfort, but put it down to “phantom feelings”, as I couldn’t decide if I was imagining it or not. But after the remaining 2 injections I have discomfort in my ovaries and feel bloated. It’s not so much painful, as it is uncomfortable – if you’re a woman, you probably know what I mean when I say it feels like I’m ovulating, but on both sides and at the same time. I assume it would have been more painful had I not been taking a prescribed suppository for the pain. (Yes, suppositories are part of the process too – not particularly fun, but no worse than the stomach injections).
Dr Thabo Matsaseng
Dr Matsaseng ran late for our appointment on Wednesday. It was my second sonar scan (Day 9 of my cycle). It’s hard to get upset with a surgeon for being late when he is in surgery saving/changing lives! He apologised (not that we were angry) and made us feel like he was 100% present for our appointment.
KB and I are naturally social people who can both easily strike up a conversation with anyone – it’s just how we’re built. Over the course of our fertility treatment at Tygerberg Hospital, we’ve fostered an easy relationship with Dr Matsaseng. I haven’t told you much about Dr M have I?
I did a bit of research on him and learned quite a bit about his life and why he got into medicine. He initially wanted to be a neurosurgeon! Today he is the Head of the Reproductive Medicine Unit at Stellenbosch University’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. And if you read up on him, you’ll find that he is clearly passionate about the work he does. He is such a calm man, but he has a great sense of humour too. He and KB always share a joke or have a laugh at something when they meet. I remember when we first met him, I was surprised by how small he is. Not that I expect doctors to be large men/women, but you know what I mean. He is a man of few airs and when we first met him he introduced himself simply as “Thabo”.
Guys, I can’t sing this man’s praises enough. I really feel blessed to have him as our doctor. When we are in his presence, he makes us feel like we have all of his attention. We never feel like he is rushing to get to the next patient and he always explains everything slowly and carefully. He’s always happy to answer any questions we have, no matter how big or small. If you are ever in the same position we are in or similar, ask him ALL the questions – You’ll feel more at ease about the whole thing, or at least I did. Even though the setup and processes at Tygerberg can be a bit confusing, and the facility is old (with notes for contractors written in black permananet marker scrawled across various surfaces), Dr Matsaseng 110% makes up for the lack of modern facilities at Tygerberg Hospital.
Side note: In one of our first appointments (over a year ago) we asked him about the contractor notes covering various surfaces, walls, cupboards, etc. in the waiting area (specifically in and around Room 22). He just laughed a little and said that they had been there for a while. Apparently they are for refurbishment plans. Nothing has changed since that first visit – the contractor notes are still exactly as they were, untouched.
Wednesday: Sonar scan #2
Dr M was very happy with what he saw on the sonar screen (the magic wand was used, as before). KB came with me for this scan (he had work commitments for the first scan) and it was the first time he saw the whole scan scenario at Tygerberg. Again, Dr M explained in detail what he was hoping to see, pointing out what we were looking at, and explained the next steps.
It would seem that I am an overachiever – my follicles look really good. Some of the bigger ones measured 14/15mm at this scan session. (Remember, we need them to be at least 18mm before they can be of use.) Dr M also showed us how the larger ones will fight and take over the space of the smaller ones – survival of the fittest even at cellular level! Isn’t that just incredible?
Dr M advised that I needed another scan on Friday (Day 11 of my cycle) where he would determine when the follicles should be removed. He anticipated it to be on Sunday or Monday. It’s important to retrieve the eggs before I ovulate, because otherwise there will be no eggs to retrieve!
Friday: Sonar scan #3
Dr M was very pleased with what he saw on the scan earlier today, pointing out my uterus lining and showing us how large the follicles in each ovary are. There are some at 16/17mm and others on the right side (my smaller side) sitting at 11 – 14mm. I am in some discomfort –not surprising, seeing the size of the follicles and how many there are! He made the decision to wait until Monday for the egg retrieval. Which is a small blessing, because there is an additional cost if it happens on a weekend. So what happens now is that I continue to take certain meds today, tomorrow and on Sunday morning. I then have the last injection (the one that’s in the fridge next to the milk!) tomorrow at a specific time.
Monday is THE HARVEST. I’ve been joking about the egg retrieval being THE HARVEST and that it needs to be written in big scary caps for emphasis. No surgery is ever fun, no matter how big or small. I know I’ll be fine and it’s not a big deal looking at the bigger picture, but it will be done under conscious sedation, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared.
Wish me luck – I’ll let you know how it goes, but I have no doubt that things will go well.
Header image by Luke Ellis-Craven.