Friday, August 10, 2012

My own worst enemy

While not 100% confirmed, evidence continues to support a theory I have had for some time.

I am allergic to myself.

Awesome, right?

The story starts back to when I was blogging specifically about our IVF cycle.  As part of normal IVF protocol, you are put on progesterone support since your body is not making any on its own.  In a natural cycle, when you ovulate, the follicle evolves into something called a corpus luteum.  This corpus luteum starts producing progesterone.  The progesterone production peaks around seven days after your ovulation, then tapers off from there.  The complete reduction of the progesterone is what triggers the onset of your next period.  (Progesterone is also responsible for your increased body temperature during the second half of your cycle -- which is how I knew my period was coming when my temperature dropped).  If you become pregnant, your embryo starts producing the pregnancy hormone, and that signals the corpus luteum to keep on producing for the next several weeks to help the pregnancy.

I never had any problems, at least not that I was aware of, prior to IVF.  However, in IVF, you are not necessarily replicating the natural production of progesterone by utilizing the shots.  Rather, you are injecting very concentrated progesterone into your body, essentially hitting it all at once vs being a steady source. 

At the time of the IVF, I did have a reaction to the shots -- horribly itchy painful feet.  We assumed it wasn't the progesterone itself, but rather the medium it was delivered (sesame oil).  Switched to a vaginal solution, and the symptom did clear up quite a bit.  It didn't disappear completely until I was completely off progesterone, but I just figured it would take awhile for the sesame oil to clear out of my body.

Fast forward to the next several natural cycles....every cycle around 3-4 days past ovulation, the feet would start to itch again.  I say itch because I don't know how better to simply describe it, but it is essentially pins poking at my feet on the bottom and alongside the inside arches.  I noticed it, but it was very minor during these cycles, so pretty much ignored it.

Last cycle on Clomid, it was much worse.  I was putting gel Benadryl on my feet at night, which helped, but it further supported my theory that the progesterone was indeed causing this issue.  I studied the progesterone hormone quite a bit, and found graphs that illustrated the level in the body and different times of the cycle.  My symptoms aligned with that graph perfectly.  This first Clomid cycle, my progesterone was measured at 44 (15 is fairly normal for a medicated cycle). 

This current cycle has been horrible.  I can't sleep.  I'm crying.  I put ice packs on my feet at night to numb them, because the Benadryl doesn't do shit. .   I have to get up in the middle of night to trek to the freezer for a fresh one.    My sleep is then uncomfortable because of the numb feet and because of the weird contortionist way to sleep to ensure both feet are touching the ice pack.  My ridiculously awesome coworker suggested getting ice pack sleeves that I can actually slip onto my feet.  I'm definitely following that advice.   I figured my progesterone HAD to be higher than last time for these worse symptoms.  I asked the RE to get it measured -- if it was higher, it is only further support that this is a progesterone allergy.  If it wasn't, I'd have to reconsider the source.  It was 65. 

Anyway, my RE has referred me to an allergist.  The allergist herself was out this week, so the nurse talked to me and was pretty dumbfounded by my issue.  We're supposed to have a call on Monday to discuss further and I'm hoping that they can (1) officially diagnose me and (2) treat me.  The realization that this can occur is fairly new, but there are studies on the internet that show going a birth control is a great method to control.  Obviously that isn't the objective here. 

My biggest concern is that if you do get pregnant, your progesterone only continues to rise.  I"m worried that I will have 9 months of crying myself to sleep with ice packs.  Ultimately, if that is the case, I am up to the challenge.  I'm just really hoping that isn't the case, because if we are able to get pregnant, I do want the chance to actually enjoy the pregnancy without this staring me down from the start.  Another concern is that this is actually preventing me from getting pregnant, although research shows that miscarriage is more of a symptom then simply not implanting an embryo. 

So that's the update.   It is very feasible that the allergist and RE will agree that I simply shouldn't get pregnant.  And that will be that.  Please keep your fingers crossed that we can find another option than that.

Sorry this was so long, but I vented this story to a friend of mine last night, and needed some further venting today.  Thank you guys and gals for being my wonderful audience for my issues (or realistically, thank you Dad, T, and gals)!

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