It’s taken me a full week to process what’s been going on in my life and in my body enough to be able to write about it.
I’d didn’t think I’d be so impacted by this. I’ve been through pregnancy loss before, I know how it goes. But that was before I knew my BRCA status, and things feel so different now.
Last Monday afternoon I got a call from my doctor with my blood test results. Despite heavy, sustained bleeding my HCG levels were climbing slowly but steadily (117, 147, 170). Still WAY below what it would have been for a viable pregnancy at 6.5 weeks, but not dropping like it would with a “normal” miscarriage. All signs pointed to ectopic pregnancy.
My doctor and I talked through a plan of action. I’d go to her office after work, she’d write me out all of the orders and prescriptions I’d need, and then I’d hop across the street to the ER for treatment — an injection of methotrexate (a chemotherapy drug), that stops cell division, causes the embryo to basically disintegrate and abort through the tube.
From 6:30PM until 1AM my spouse and I sat in the hospital ER. Delay after delay kept us there while I waited for an injection that would ultimately take 30 seconds. First, blood tests & waiting for results (to see if my body was healthy enough for the drug). Then the OBGYN residents had two back to back emergency C-sections to attend to. Once I was finally cleared I had to wait for chemo nurses to be available to come administer the drug. Dinner from the vending machine. Hours upon hours of mindless TV. Oh, and the cherry on top…when they unhooked my IV for me to go to the bathroom they didn’t cap the port in my arm and I left a trail of blood down the hallway and leaked a grapefruit sized blood stain onto my dress before I realized it was even happening. After 6 hours of waiting, two quick shots, one to each butt cheek…and that was that.
I’ve really struggled with whether or not to share this but as I already wrote about TTC, I figured an update is order. But this is about to get pretty intimate…so if that’s not your thing, turn back now.
I didn’t think I’d find myself here — in a position where a miscarriage would be good news. But here I am.
The day after I wrote my prior post, I got a faint positive on a home pregnancy test. I was beyond shocked and overjoyed…although I tried to withhold my excitement. As my spouse said “we’ve been down this road before”…aka excitement for something that ends in disappointment. My first pregnancy, before I eventually conceived my son, resulted in an early miscarriage, and that left it’s emotional scars and lots of early pregnancy anxiety.
I tested again the next day, and then the next. That tell-tale line began to darken, and with it my hope began to expand. Then a few days later, the line was fainter — a sign that HCG was not increasing the way it should. I prepared myself for what would happen next, what happened the first time…the line would grow fainter and fainter and then the bleeding would start in a few days. But that didn’t quite happen.
I haven’t been writing here much in the past couple of weeks, because since I’ve gotten my current clean bill of health, BRCA-related things have not been on the forefront of my mind…thankfully. It’s always there, lurking somewhere, but I’m grateful to have been able to direct my focus elsewhere and feel almost like my usual self again.
One thing that has been on my mind? Babies. Specifically, is there going to be another one in our future? Or not?
I can’t believe I didn’t share my good news here. I found out last week that my biopsy came back benign! I’m still waiting for my copy of the pathology report to see exactly what it was that the MRI picked up…but whatever it was it’s officially not cancer and not suspicious!
With the clear biopsy result, I’ve officially been given a clean bill of health for now. While I’m trying to take a little time to bask in this knowledge and breathe a giant sigh of relief, it’s hard not to fast forward to thinking about next steps.
On Wednesday I had an MRI-guided core needle biopsy of the small breast lesion that was found on my screening MRI a couple weeks ago. They told me that I would have my results in 3-5 business days, so most likely I’ll hear early next week…although they did say I could hear as early as this afternoon.
Surprisingly, I’m actually less anxious waiting for this result than I was waiting for my initial MRI result. I attribute this to my amazing breast surgeon who really put me at ease. I know there is only about a 10-30% chance that the lesion is cancerous (or to phrase it in glass-half-full way a 70-90% chance it’s benign), and my doctor reassured me that even in the worst case scenario, it’s a tiny lesion and probably very treatable. So overall I’m feeling pretty damn optimistic.
However, waiting for any sort of big news is hard. And waiting to find out if you have cancer? A little extra hard.
So I’m trying my utmost to not sit here wringing my hands and waiting for the phone. In other words I’m trying to entertain myself with some positive distractions. Here are a handful:
When things in my life are relatively sane and stable, I’m pretty damn good at taking care of myself. I exercise regularly, cook nourishing food, connect with friends and family, and spend time enriching my life with music, literature, etc.
And I believe deeply in the importance of self-care and self-compassion.
However, when things in my life are stressful and overwhelming (as they are now) rather than dialing up and prioritizing self-care (like I probably should), it gets chucked in the back seat. My healthy home-cooked meals get traded in for ice cream dinners. My workouts get wimpier as I struggle to find the energy to push myself. And I crash on the couch after work and zone out rather then engaging in something more soul-filling.
In the past 10 days I have had 5 medical appointments.
I’ve had needles stuck into my veins twice, wands inserted into my vagina twice, been face down inside a giant magnet, and had 2 doctors casually mention that if we’re hoping to have another baby we should do it ASAP (tick tick tick) because my ovaries should undoubtedly come out within the next 1.5 years.
That’s seems like an awful lot for someone who isn’t “sick”.
Transvaginal ultrasound results were normal…follicular cysts, but nothing suspicious. CA-125 result was 13. Also “normal”.
And now I’m sitting here, my stomach in knots, waiting for hear about my MRI.