Hi everyone. Yes, I am still here. No, nothing much has been happening on the topic of infertility treatment around here for ages.
However, that is all about to change, as we officially start treatment on the 25th of January 2013!!!!
Hubby and I will travel to Hamilton so he can have the sperm retrieval procedure done. This involves a local anaesthetic and possibly (?) some light sedation. The RE will attempt to retrieve sperm directly from one teste via four increasing more invasive procedures: TESA, TESE, MESA, PESA. Needle aspiration into teste is first, then needle aspiration into epididymis, then a kind of biopsy where a piece of tissue is taken, then I think a larger chunk is taken. Sorry, it has been a while since our appointment with the RE.
The procedure will only be done on one side, so that if there is any damage caused (touch wood) it should only affect one side.
So, we have in essence, four shots to retrieve some swimmers. I don't know if a second sperm retrieval procedure is covered under publicly funded treatments or not.
Any sperm that are retrieved will need to be washed and frozen. Washed, because of the high likelihood of anti-sperm antibodies (it's over 12 years since Hubby had his vasectomy now), and frozen because we are not doing the IVF right away. No, of course not. There is more waiting, silly!
Because we won't technically have finished our 3 years of penalty wait-it-out time until August / September 2013. So the sperm needs to be stored until then, and then hopefully it will thaw ok. Freezing and thawing will damage the numbers, but we have no option. But I was worried that we wouldn't get to do the sperm retrieval procedure until August, so at least we get that over with sooner. (The cynical me thinks that this appointment got sent to us around about the same time that the HDC complaint went in... Hmmm.)
IVF will not start until we know whether or not we can get viable sperm, and I am happy about this as it means I won't be put through the drug regimen unless there is a really good shot.
So when August / September comes around, I am to start IVF drugs asap. I assume we will be back up to Hamilton before that to collect drugs and be trained on their use. (Yes, I have a few things in the timeline to iron out).
It's all becoming much more real. For so long (nearly 3 years "officially infertile" as the NZ medical system defines it, plus 6 years before that. That, friends, is nearly 9 years of infertility. And we are only just about to start treatment. This still blows my mind!) we have been waiting, and fighting, and crying, and hoping, and researching, and advocating, and trying to plan, and trying to live life anyway, that to have this ephemeral, ethereal, indistinct future suddenly right on our doorstep is, is... what?
Is it amazing? I'm not sure. I don't know how I feel now. Nothing dramatic, emotionally, is appearing just yet. I have booked the motel for the night before the procedure. That made it real. We have talked about how much it might hurt (physically) and dear Hubby has assured me that since he is not freaking out, I should not freak out. He says that since he already had a vasectomy he knows roughly what to expect. He's calmer than I am, so I guess you could call it nervous energy. The feeling that the waiting is finally coming to a climax. That action will start. That all the past years torment will be swept aside.
I know better than to think that. I will carry the experience of infertility with me forever. I have read enough in these years to understand that people don't just forget what has happened to them.
Which brings me to the HDC. Now, I spent a lot of energy writing to the Health and Disability Commissioner of New Zealand to advise him of what had happened to us, and to try and get some fair treatment. Of course, that process took so long that now we qualify for treatment on our own. So that whole thing seems moot. But I have received letters back from the HDC and I haven't had the heart to read them in depth and analyse them properly. Part of that is because they have so obviously missed the point and swept my complaint aside (the point: that I was not party to the decision to get a vasectomy, and that we had already waited 6 years, and that an additional 3 years of penalty time is cruel and unfair), but also because after a discussion with my husband I decided to look forward. To try not to waste time keening for the past. To make plans and move into the future. To plan for treatment, which is now coming up.
But I will share the results of the HDC complaint I submitted when I feel ready to read them and write my opinions on them. Personally, I won't get much out of this except for a great sense of indignation that they still don't understand, and are still acting unfairly. But another part of me hates the thought of some other couple being forced onto this journey unnecessarily.
So, there you go. I am nervous, worried, optimistic, elated, scared, pessimistic, optimistic, calm, and tense all at the same time. I feel guilty that was is essentially my request (to have a child) will mean that my husband has to have an operation. He seems unfazed by this, and I know he really wants a child too. He says he is excited, and that we would make great parents. I say, we already are great parents!
This blog should get a bit more active over the coming weeks, and I hope I can bring you all some good news about a successful sperm retrieval procedure.