Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Pineapple - A Jeckell and Hyde

Pineapple, the wonderfood for infertile women has a more sinister side - it can cause ABORTION!

I'm sure many women suffering from infertility or who are TTC have heard or read that pineapple assists in implantation. The theory is that pineapple contains bromelain, an enzyme that breaks up proteins that inhibit the implantation of a fertilized egg onto the wall of the uterus. This notion is even being encouraged by some practitioners in naturopathy and TCM.

Because of my recent suspicions about pregnancy at my TCM's clinic recently, I asked the doctor if it would be a good idea to eat pineapple, as I had read that it would encourage implantation. My TCM doc exclaimed without any hesitation, a big

"NO! It causes abortion!"

I was shocked - that was the LAST thing I wanted. How could there be such controversial uses for the same fruit! He got quite upset about how scientific lab tests have been taken out of context by people. He said that bromelain was only a very small component of the whole pineapple. When its benefits were discovered, people only focused on the bromelain part of the pineapple and failed to address the other components of the pineapple, which can also trigger abortion. Its use has been documented as an aid for abortions for thousands of years in TCM!

I completely understand what he's saying and I am not going to refute thousands of years of pineapple-induced abortion practices in China!

This practice apparently doesn't end in China either. Many other cultures such as in Hawaii also use it to trigger abortion. Pineapple can cause contractions in pregnant women, accidentally causing a miscarriage.

So I am writing this as a caution to women who are trying to conceive about the dangers of pineapple. Our spark of life trying to grow in our tummies could unknowingly be destroyed by this humble tropical fruit. Do yourselves a favor and find another source of bromelain that is less harmful! We IF women are trying so hard to conceive, often spending thousands of dollars on treatments, not to mention our huge emotional investment. We do not want to endanger any chance we might have of getting pregnant.

I really have no idea how much of the pineapple you need to eat, what parts of it or how often you need to eat it for implantation or abortion to happen. I do not have any proof of any of these theories, but...

Why take that risk with abortion? I certainly won't! Would you?

Monday, September 28, 2009

My Toughest 2 Week Wait Ever!

I am now at the start of the last week of my 2WW and this has to be the toughest wait ever! I came home today after my visit to my TCM doc with good news and bad news. 

The Good News - he suspects that I might be pregnant!  :-O  

The Bad News - my little bean's not looking sticky and it might "drop"  :-(

Talk about an emotional roller coaster!

My TCM doc is not actually sure if I'm pregnant because he could not get a reading from my pulse. He tried and tried many times , but my bean was not talking to him yet. It was still too early to tell. But he suspected it after I went in for my moxa today because my feet went really cold. I called for him immediately and asked why it was happening. He felt my feet and immediately pulled off the electrical wires and acupuncture needles from my legs. It scared me - I never saw him act with such immediacy before! He said that the most probable reason was that I was pregnant. Shock and Elation! What a way to find out! Then he said that if this was happening, it doesn't look good for the blastocyst-it should be loving the heat but it's not. The heat is not reaching it properly. Oh No! 

He ordered me bedrest for the next few days until our next appointment on Thursday, and immediately modified my herbal prescription. Since the moxa was not working, the best thing to do was to warm my kidneys and increase the thickness of my uterine lining with the herbs, so my little bean has a better chance of sticking! 

He tried to keep me positive by showing me the silver lining in the clouds - what this shows is that my body is now ready after months of treatment after the m/c. It just needs a bit more fine-tuning, but I am on my way. It's really consoling to know.

Now I am filled with questions and anxiety and hope. What is going on in that body of mine? Did a conception happen? Is it sticking to my ute? Will I be pregnant? Am I really pregnant? Is this it? Will it survive? Am I gonna lose my little bean? Am I pregnant? Am I pregnant? Am I pregnant? 

This is going to be the toughest 2 Week Wait EVER!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

My Cat's Favourite Hobby

I thought I'd distract myself from obsessing over my 2WW by posting something about my furry baby. I was out all day attending a friend's wedding anniversary celebration and had to leave my fluff-ball alone at home for a whole 9 hours. Poor Zoey! I wonder what he feels when he's alone at home for that many hours. Anxiety? Loneliness? "YAY! I can do whatever I want!"? I came home and nothing was broken. And the sofa's still intact. Well, he probably slept all day... Cats have an amazing talent - they can sleep 28 hours a day! This is one of the many pics I have of Zoey sleeping. Anything is comfortable to him, and he doesn't care for luxurious beds. The cheaper the better! This is one of his favourite sleeping spots - a cheap $2 plastic basket.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fertility Rules Are Meant To Be Broken

There is often a point of contention between my TCM doc and me over my methods of pin-pointing ovulation or my most fertile window.

"Throw away your thermometer!"

"Forget charting your fertile days!" my TCM doctor would say to me!

Having been brought up with a western approach to fertility ie: faithfully charting BBTs daily, peeing on ovulation predictor kits, etc, his advice shocked me to say the least! It goes against everything I believed about helping yourself increase your chances of success with conception. His explanation was,

"It doesn't work like this."


I sat there stunned as he told me that sex could actually trigger ovulation, regardless of which Cycle Day you're on. He went on to explain that your mind and emotions can be so strong that it can have a physiological effect on your body. Simply put- if you're hot and horny, your hormones and qi are raging so much that it could trigger the release of an egg! This sounded too Twilight Zone to me! But he went on to explain that it was the reason why even young kids who have sex during their periods, even before their ovulation date, could get pregnant so easily.

Well, strange and bizarre as it may seem, I think perhaps that there is some truth to it. My mother's own personal account of how she conceived me seems to back up his theory. Most grown-ups never want to hear from their parents how they made us (too much information-Eeew!) but I'm sorta glad my mom told me about her experience. She told me that she knew precisely the moment at which she conceived me, which was at her (and my dad's) point of orgasm. (Too much information right?) During her climax, she felt the egg being released and she knew at that point that she conceived. It wasn't a hunch - she just knew it. She believes that her climax had triggered her ovulation! Perhaps my TCM doc isn't too far-fetched with his theories!?!

He also does not subscribe to the idea that a woman is infertile after her ovulation is over. When I mentioned to him recently that I had already O'd and that I was now waiting to find out if I conceived, he told me to keep trying. But, BUT... My fertile window is already over! I told him that I had read that the egg would only last 24 hours, and sperm a few days only. His other "It doesn't work like this" speech came out.

He explained that women/men who are undergoing fertility treatment with him are much more fertile and do not fall into the norm. He also talked about how the information we have from results quantified my lab tests do not always reflect real life conditions, nor do they consider other variable factors. So a woman's window for conception can actually be much longer if she is extremely fertile. One case that comes to mind is a fellow IF sister who managed to conceive even though she ovulated 9 days after she last had sex with her husband! Many left her comments saying that she was basically nuts for believing that, and that she miscalculated her O date. But she retorted that she knew her body very well, and that was what happened exactly. She had problems with PCOS and IF but with the help of TCM, she got pregnant and had just delivered a healthy baby boy! When I related this amazing story to my TCM doc, he said it was indeed possible. Her husband's sperm was very strong and she was so fertile (with sperm-friendly CM I assume) that his sperm was able to survive for so many days!

So all my preconceived ideas about fertility have flown out the window--or are at least hanging half-way out the window now. TCM treats the human body in its totality. Our minds, our emotions and bodies are intertwined with each other and impact our health more ways than we realize. As for my TCM doc's advice to me... Well, he told me that some of my problems, like my underperforming libido are in my mind, because my body is physically sound. He told me to go back and rekindle the kind of love and excitement I felt when my DH and I were courting. And that should get my hormones raging a bit. Now that's one advice I am happy to take!

Now that you know what I know, doesn't it feel like you've been transplanted onto another planet- which is neither Mars nor Venus? It's pretty incredible stuff! What do you make of all this?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The 2-Week Obsession

It's 5 days past ovulation for me and it's starting again-- I am beginning to obsess over whether I am pregnant or not, even though I told myself not to. Assuming that one of my DH's super soldiers managed to find my egg, I am now currently obsessing whether implantation is going to happen or not. I am noticing every twang in my ute, checking for any slight change in CM, asking myself if my nipples are really sore or if it's my imagination, and making sure I'm not jumping around so that my egg has every chance of sticking to my ute! Yes-The 2-Week-Crazy-Obsessed-Knocked-up-Wanna-Be is on the loose again! The 2WW is really hard. Are all IF sisters just like me?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

My Furry 4-Legged Pitter Patter

I think all those days lying down with my tummy exposed dangerously close to a fiery moxa stick have actually done me some good! Firstly, my hormones must have kicked into place because - boy - was I horny around the time of my ovulation! My libido has been MIA for a while and it looks like it's finally back in action! My egg-white CM was also spectacular! I also ovulated on my own much earlier this cycle on CD19, compared to CD25 previously! Something definitely did light my fire! Now that my cycle has peaked and all the "necessary" baby dancing is out of the way, there's nothing I can really do, except to wait for the BFN- or hopefully, BFP! I'm keeping my fingers, and all my toes crossed, as always.

Since I've told myself not to obsess about the BFN/BFP, now's a good time to talk about other things in my life, such as our furry baby that has brought so much joy, and amusement to my & DH's lives. Meet Zoey, our fluffy fluff of feline fur! He's been with us for 8 of our 10 childless years of marriage and I've treasured every minute of it. He's an indoor cat, so he spends a lot of time with me, giving much pleasure and madness at the same time! And yes, you read right - it is a HE. We named him Zoltan but it has morphed into Zoey. And it has stuck! So, as first impressions are very important, I've dug up the purrtiest and most innocent photos I have of Zoey. Here's one of him enjoying the outdoors.

And here's one with those beautiful big round eyes of his. So innocent.... Comes in really handy when he does something naughty!!! I fall for it all the time...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

My TCM Doc Passed With Flying Colors!

I tested my TCM doctor today. I had peed on an ovulation predictor stick today and saw a second line forming. That means my Luteinizing hormones are surging, slowly but surely. Yay! It's not quite a full positive yet, but I'm getting very close. And TCM doctors are supposed to be able to tell almost everything that's going on inside your body simply by reading your pulse.

Unlike the western way of reading a pulse purely to measure your heart rate, a TCM physician uses three fingers to read 3 points on your wrist. Each point is further divided into 3 levels or depths, which makes it a total of 9 "pulses". The combination of the pulses give a total picture of your body's health. Their fingers are so super-sensitive that they are able to read the differences in each pulse, ranging from "stringy" to "taught". (Heck! I can even barely locate my pulse sometimes!) I've read that they could tell if you're ovulating or pregnant just from reading your pulse.

Well, being a bit of a sceptic still, I couldn't resist checking what I knew against his "readings". So I asked him if I was ovulating. I expected a "yes" or "no" answer. Instead, he said, "Close. Just around the corner". Wow! That answer blew me away! He could even tell that it would happen soon. Some may think that it's a pretty vague answer and that he probably made a guesstimate based on my cycle. But for someone like me who has irregular cycles and temperamental ovaries, it's hard to know even if I would ovulate. And he doesn't chart my cycles-that's my job. I guess he knew what he needed to know from his readings and there was no need for me to update him with numbers and pee sticks. He really knows his stuff! As far as I'm concerned, he passed with flying colors!

Anyway, I had my last moxa for this cycle. He did tell me that it would have to stop when I ovulated. I asked him how we would know when to stop - he said he would know. I guess he does! Well, I am relieved that I'm done with the moxa for now. It is a bit nerve-wracking having a huge burning stick so close to the skin.

So now I am really looking forward to ovulating and making a baby this month! I am delighted that my body is behaving as it should this month! I even feel twangs of pain on my right ovary or thereabouts, which I hadn't in a long time. It must have finally woken up!

Post-natal Care after Miscariage

My recovery after my miscarriage has not been an easy one, often plagued by pain during and in between Aunt Flo's visits. Although I had improved minutely from cycle to cycle, it can be seen as a regression in my condition, compared to the progress I had made before my miscarriage/pregnancy. I had been pain-free for a few months after acupuncture and herbs pre m/c, but I could not understand why I had regressed. My TCM doc told me it was because a miscarriage weakens the body, and as I had neglected to take care of my body after the m/c, I had inherited a whole new set of problems that had aggravated my endo again.

So today, I want to share about the importance of post-natal care as explained by my doctor. According to TCM, a woman who suffers a m/c has to go through the same care as a woman who has had a baby because what the body goes through is essentially the same. The body is taxed to its max with hormonal surges during pregnancy and loss of blood when the baby comes out, whether alive or not. A woman's body needs to be nourished and healed after these massive changes. In TCM practice, the woman is confined to her home for one month with rest and intensive changes to her diet and activities. She is often fed lots of ginger to expel the "wind", kept warm and banned from bathing or touching water among other things, to prevent her from getting more "wind". Failing to do so often leads to problems later in life such as arthritis and rheumatism and the sudden appearance of conditions that western medicine labels as "unexplained" illness. To illustrate the importance of post-natal care, my TCM doc related to me an incident where a head nurse from a hospital had gone swimming after 3 weeks of giving birth. That night, her body turned blue and then black and she died the next day. She wasn't even supposed to touch water, and she had instead gone to the other extreme! This is unexplained in western medicine, but TCM recognizes this as a fatal result from exposure to cold and water that adversely affected an already much weakened body.

Although I didn't go to the extreme of swimming after the m/c (it was winter anyway) I only rested (bed-ridden rather) for 4-5 days, I had my regular showers and ate burgers and icy cold coke - hardly a nourishing diet. In retrospect, these were the sorts of actions that caused me to regress, as I had completed neglected to take good care of my body. When I resumed treatment with my TCM doctor, he did confirm that I had "confinement wind" - wind that I got during the time when I should have been confined to intensive post-natal care. He said that these problems were very difficult to rid off and very, very bad as they stay with you for the rest of your life, if left untreated, developing into health problems later in life. I can see then why my progress had been extremely slow.

What I found interesting was the point he brought up about how every culture had their own post-natal care regiment, which unfortunately had started to disappear with the appearance of modern western medicine about 100 years ago. In his knowledge, even many of his patients from all parts of the world like Sweden, Germany Netherlands, Africa, had told him that they too had their own traditional post-natal practices.

I think many of these traditional practises are perceived as old wives' tales or myths today. It's important to realise that our forefather's or rather "foremothers" knew what they were doing back in those days as they had little or no medicine to help them, and their best fight against illness was prevention. This lesson has been lost with the popularity of modern western medicine that only worries about illnesses when they appear. With the kind of lifestyle that we have now and our approach to medicine today, it is no wonder why so many people in the world are ill today.

There are many IF sisters like myself who have had miscarriages and even multiple ones, who do not understand why things are not working out for them even with the help of all sorts of expensive treatments. Our continued ignorance and neglect may be contributing to our infertility. Perhaps it's time to go back to our roots and pay attention to the importance of traditional post-natal care. We owe it to ourselves to respect our bodies and give it the best care so that we can be the best possible vessel for our babies to come into this world. And be in our best shape so that we can care for them after they are born.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Pregnancy and Miscarriage - My Joy, My Pain

This past week, our blogosphere has been filled with horrible news about miscarriages. Reading about them makes my heart ache, and feelings of my own tragic loss have been flooding back to me. My own loss happened in March this year. I have never been able to write about it, but I realise that I needed some closure. And by coming to terms with it in writing, perhaps I will be able to close that chapter of my life.

I will always remember March 2009 as one of the most intensely joyous and painful times of my life, for it was then that I discovered I was pregnant for the first time in my life, after having been infertile for four years, and then having lost it all in a matter of weeks - all while I was on one of the biggest vacations of my life.

My husband and I had planned a super vacation that would last 6 weeks. We would traverse across 3 states - California, Utah and Arizona, skiing and visiting some of the most gorgeous landscapes. It was possibly THE LAST vacation we would enjoy as a couple before embarking on a journey towards parenthood. We had been struggling with infertility but with our new found treatment, we were quite hopeful. I had expected my period on the first day of our vacation, but I was not worried about the debilitating pain, simply because my TCM treatment had "cured" me. My period never came and I didn't think much of it because they were always irregular anyway. We were enjoying our days skiing, but even though I trained for it, I found myself unusually unfit and tired. After a week had passed I suggested to DH that I could be pregnant. He laughed it off - I mean we always joked about being pregnant for years whenever my period was late (as it was often unpredictable) but it was always a Big Fat Negative! So he thought it was probably just another one of those. He told me to wait another week before testing. But after a few days, I just had to know! I couldn't stand the suspense any longer. I remember going to Target and spending a good half hour looking at all the different pregnancy test kits - it was all so new to me!

The next morning, I saw two pink POSITIVE lines! I was in a daze! And so surprised! I woke DH up from his sleep straight away and told him the news. We were so happy but we both just sat on the motel bed, dazed! I mean - it was hard to believe - after 4 years of trying! We had taken a break from TTC and the only infertility treatment we had was natural chinese herbs and acupuncture for 4 months prior to that! And what was even more amazing was that we only started trying to conceive the month before! Talk about Traditional Chinese Medicine being super effective-at least for me!

And then horror struck me - I had taken a tumble while skiing the day before. We had some of the biggest snowstorms of the year and had deep powder. Not knowing how to ski in deep powder, I had fallen something like 3 times within the first 100 yards down the mountain. Luckily it was a pretty soft landing. We didn't know what quite to do next about the pregnancy, but as we had planned our itinerary to the minutest detail and booked all our hotels already, we decided to continue on with our vacation. I knew that many women were able to continue on with an active life with their pregnancy and I promised myself that I would not get paranoid over the baby's safety. I would continue skiing but decided to take it easy and try my damnedest not to fall!

That week of skiing was rather uneventful, thankfully, but it was very hard being pregnant, for the first time, away from home, from any medical care or access to information. Eating healthily while on a budget and on vacation was tough too. And all I wanted to do was learn what my body was going through and what I ought to do. Thank god for all the free wi-fi that came with our hotel rooms. Google was our only source information!

As days passed, I had started to spot. I started to stress out and fear for the baby. What compounded my fear was that I had no access to my regular care provider. I was so far away from home - from any support. Google had become my pregnancy bible and that was the only place I was able to search for answers. I had read that some women continued having a successful pregnancy even though they bled heavily. That gave me hope. I had also read that miscarriage was usually caused by genetic problems in the conception, not physical activity because it was still very tiny and very well protected by the uterus. So it was unlikely that my skiing had caused danger to my baby. By that time our skiing trip was over, but I continued to spot off and on, and sometimes with quite a bit of blood. I had fantasised about telling our friends and family about our pregnancy, and seeing the joy on their faces, but now I was in danger of losing it all. For the first time in my life, I had wished my vacation was over.

But hotels were already booked and our friends had already made plans to join us for part of our vacation. So many things were at stake. But I also knew that if I were to miscarry, it would likely be nature's way of terminating a bad conception, and chances of stopping it were slim. Even progesterone supplements do not always work. I was prepared to accept my fate whatever the outcome.

By that time I was somewhere out in the middle of nowhere in Utah. We had planned to visit all the great National Parks of the Southwest. So there was no medical care around. Not even a clinic in the small towns we stayed in. The spotting did not cease. Scared and stressed as I was, I just had to wait and let my body sort itself out.

We continued sightseeing, visiting amazing places like Zion NP and Antelope Canyon, and I continued to spot. I was having so much fun but I was also having the worst time of my life. I didn't know if I was having a missed miscarriage. And then it finally happened. I will never forget the day I had the true miscarriage - We had gone on a hike at Bryce Canyon that had some of the most amazing scenery ever. It was freezing cold and I pretty much wore most of my ski stuff - ski pants and jacket! The trail was a loop that started at the top, and took us down into the canyon floor and then back up again. I was really enjoying myself. The views were fascinating and breath-taking!

And then the cramps started. I felt a humungous rush of blood soaking up my pad. I believed it must have soaked through my underwear and if not for the black waterproof ski pants I had on, it probably would have shown through. I knew something was very wrong. The cramps got worse and F**K! I was only half way through the trail. There was no elevator or stretcher or ambulance - There was just no way out except to hike back up. I thought I had never felt so miserable in my life! I just had to trudge on.

I finally got back up and out of the trail, and rushed straight to the public restrooms. When I pulled down my underwear I saw a big solid mass. It was the placenta. I broke down and cried uncontrollably. For the first time, I had undeniable proof that I WAS pregnant, and that I had lost it. All I had before were 2 pink lines on a stick. No doctor, no blood test, no ultrasound and no heartbeat to confirm if a baby was really growing inside of me. With visual proof now, it hit me hard. And I was devastated that I had to find out like this. I cried and cried in that toilet stall. There were masses of tourists going in and out of the restrooms, but I never felt so alone. I finally picked myself up. I wrapped the placenta in tissue, placed it on my pocket and walked to the car where my husband was waiting for me. My poor husband was shocked to see me burst into tears. It was a while before I could bring myself to actually utter the words of what I had just experienced. I am so grateful my husband was there for me, but that was only just the beginning of the pain.

The next few days was hell for me. The emotional pain was completely taken over by physical pain. I was lying in a hotel room in the middle of nowhere and I had extremely bad cramps. I did not know what to do. I decided I had better abstain from taking painkillers because the cramping was there for a reason -to expel whatever remains there were of the pregnancy. After 6 hours, I couldn't take it anymore- I gave in and took my usual pain meds. And then came the worst attack of gastritis I ever had. I was completely bed ridden. I had excruciating pain in the uterus and the stomach. It was utter hell! My dear, dear husband took care of me as I was completely dependent on him. The next morning, it snowed and we had to check out and move to another town. It was agony trying to get dressed and move and even sit in the car. There wasn't a clinic there, and there wasn't even a pharmacy in the next town to get something for the gastric attack. Hell continued. I was bedridden in the next town. The pain was so bad, I was gasping for air and hyperventilating. Every movement - even to roll onto my side was excruciating, like a knife cutting thru me. I had never felt so scared or so much agony. I was afraid that a bleeding ulcer was forming, and worse, my stomach was perforated. I feared for my life. I think we were at Capital Reef Park at that time, hundreds of miles from the next biggest town. We had to make a decision whether to rush to a hospital and abandon our trip all together. I was stubborn, and waited for my breaking point.

I don't know how but by the grace of god, I made it through with my beloved husband at my side every step of the way. I remember my husband driving me around through the parks and I watched the scenery go by as I recovered. I could hardly walk - every step felt like a pounding that reverberated through my sore stomach and uterus painfully. I had to hang on to my husband and it took me 10 times longer than normal for me to get anywhere. Old people were whizzing past me on foot. I was reminded how ill I really was. By the 5th day after my miscarriage, I had managed to hike a 3 mile trek with a 500-foot elevation to see Delicate Arch. I hadn't intended to do that in my condition, but I couldn't stand to see my husband looking so disappointed. He would have had to miss out on Utah's most famous and iconic monument as he would never leave me on my own, with the state of health I was in. It was already 5pm that day, and I thought what the hell, we should just go for it! I managed to summon my strength and made it there and back safely. It was worth the trip!

Although I was recovering, I was still very scared. I had no medical care since it all happened, and there was the possibility of infection. I wasn't out of the woods yet. The stress just kept going, from one thing to another. Some women miscarry completely on their own with no complications. I was praying that I would be one of them. The bleeding continued for what seemed like forever. It finally stopped after two weeks. I had no fever and no weird symptoms. Just a very broken heart and weakened body.

We had kept the placenta with us all that time. I was surprised how "attached" my husband also was to it. It just felt wrong to throw it in the bin or flush it down the toilet. I didn't see a foetus-it may have been there, but to me, that placenta, represented the baby I had always wanted. The one that came into our lives briefly. We decided we would bury it in a special place. We found a spot under a juniper tree in the "Valley of the Gods", near Monument Valley. It just felt like the right place. And that's where we left our "baby".

We did accomplish everything we wanted to do on our vacation and after that, I finally had a check up with a gynae. That in itself was another ordeal as the gynae I was with was an ass of a doctor! I decided to go with another gynae. He was very understanding and he had thought it would be a good idea for me to continue with the herbs and acupuncture since it had helped me conceive. I have his support and after an ultrasound, he gave me the all clear. I didn't need a D&C - everything seemed to have been expelled naturally. And I resumed treatment with my TCM doctor a week after that.

This has to be one of the most painful and testing experiences in my life. I had never known such pain, nor stress nor guilt. I still don't know if I am to blame for the miscarriage - Was I not careful enough? Was it something I did or didn't do? Would I have been able to save the baby if I had seeked medical treatment? My TCM doctor had warned me before about going to the mountains because of the altitude and lack of oxygen (incase I was pregnant), and I defied his "orders". And I miscarried. I just have so much guilt in me. It is not good for me to harbour so much negativity inside me, so I know I have to stop blaming myself. But it is difficult. I have never been able to get over it completely because of this guilt. I feel like my heart has been darkened with a stain that cannot be removed. It is still a process.

But as agonizing and difficult this whole experience was for me, I came out of it with 2 greatly positive things:
I CAN get pregnant! And I have discovered a strength I never knew I had. And it is this hope and strength that carries me through my journey towards motherhood everyday.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Reflection Of My Journey

As optimistic as I am with the prognosis of TCM in my situation, it has not been a smooth ride. I've had the fortune of experiencing 1) months where I was pain-free, and 2) one miraculous pregnancy (at least to me!). But I have also lost the baby, dealt with the most extreme physical pain I've ever known, and my body is still battling to recover to full health since my miscarriage-- all this in the last 10 months since I started my course on Traditional Chinese Medicine.

So where in my heart do I stand with TCM? The lack of progress in the last few months has shaken me up a bit, but I still want to believe badly that this course of treatment will work for me. For one, my initial response to the treatment turned me from a sceptic to a believer. My TCM doctor told me that if I followed his recommendations, the awful pain I experienced with my period would decrease by 50%. When my next period came around, the pain had decreased not by 50%, but by 100%! That means NO PAIN! None! Zilch! I was astounded! Thinking it was a fluke, the next period came along, and again, no pain! And the same with the next. I have suffered pain from endometriosis for more than 10 years of my life, and to have this gone after a month of treatment really shocked me. It converted me into a believer. How can it not? And to top it off, I had a surprise of my life when I found out I was pregnant while I was on vacation. We had failed to conceive on our own for 4 years, and after 4 months of treatment, out of which we had only TTC during one cycle, we conceived straight away! It was so clear that the treatment had been affecting my body positively. And it is because of these amazing results that I believe in the healing powers of this form of medicine.

However, the miscarriage has knocked me back several steps. TCM advocates paying particular attention to healing after birth/miscarriage due to the loss of energy and blood, which I had neglected to do out of ignorance. And I have failed to realise the consequences of my ignorance until today, when I found out how weak my body still is. Last week, in an effort to heal me more aggressively, I underwent moxibustion sessions 5 days in a row. My body responded so well to it and my energy levels began to rise. I thought I was on my way. But after having a 2-day break over the weekend, my session with my TCM doc today revealed that I had degenerated again. I was so disappointed! My doctor had always told me that problems inherited after pregnancy due to neglect is a "terrible, terrible thing" that can affect a person for the rest of her life if not treated. The last 5 months since I miscarried, I have suffered some of the worst pain I ever felt from a period, even with treatment. Nor have I been able to conceive. The difference in my body's response to TCM treatment pre and post miscarriage is obvious. I have inherited more problems now on top of my endometriosis and pre-existing problems. If only I knew what I should have done back then... I feel so angry, frustrated and defeated.

But TCM has worked for me before. I AM able to get pregnant. I've OVERCOME the pain before. And with a little more diligence and patience, there is no reason why it won't work for me again. So I am soldiering on with my head high. I have a great doctor, a promising treatment and a loving husband who's with me every step of the way. I WILL achieve my dreams.

Friday, September 11, 2009

My Attention-Seeking Endo

Every tenth day of my cycle, my endo always comes knocking on my ass's door to make sure I haven't forgotten about it. And it is right on time this month as always. Today is CD10 and my rectum has started to feel tender and tingle with a slight pain. Oddly enough, I've always felt like my endo ass could predict the rain because they always coincide. Well, lo and behold - it rained today again while my ass throbbed! I was hoping that all that moxa would have cast away that evil ass-throbbing menace, but it didn't. I'm disappointed, but I am thankful it wasn't as annoyingly painful as last month. I know I'm a tad too impatient and expect miracles to happen, but this ass-throb has brought me crashing back down to earth. Healing takes time. I've had this disease for years - it's not going to disappear over a few days...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Hot Bods & Pimples

I've had 4 moxa (moxibustion) sessions todate and boy! Am I burnin' up! It seems that my body has been responding so well to this heat treatment that pimples have broken out on my face! In fact that was the first thing my TCM doctor so very kindly pointed out to me when he saw me today! How sweet! He attributed that to the moxa because for me, an occasional pimple every now and then is normal-5 overnight is not! And it's not just the pimples - my body felt like an overheated nuclear reactor. I've had to throw off the blanket last night and crank up the a/c because I was so hot. It felt like I could fry an egg on my body! I am not sure how far I've got to take this, but I will just have to put my trust in my doctor, who is monitoring me closely. He says I should push on with the moxa.

So today, I had my 4th moxa. This moxa thing may sound like some hocus-pocus waving of a burning wand over my needle-pricked body, but its effects are surprisngly real. I've had 2 unusual experiences during today's session that convinced me that the moxa has opened up my energy channels - once my doctor had inserted all the acupuncture needles, my bed started to sway. It felt like 2 people were bumping the foot and head of my bed back and forth, back and forth. I thought - "Oh no! Earthquake? The building is swaying!" So I extended both my arms outwards and braced myself against the walls (the private room was quite narrow) to stop the bed from swaying, but the swaying didn't stop. It was then that I realized that the sensation was occurring from inside my body. The needles had triggered the circulation of Qi or energy up and down my body. So the surging of the energy made me sway! It was quite an amazing feeling! No one else said they felt the building swaying, so it must have been all me.

The second unusual experience I had was the burning sensation I had on the back and left side of my waist. I had just completed the 50-minute moxa and acupuncture session, and was walking around when I felt it. Immediately I asked the doctor about it and he explained that the moxa had opened up the channels and hormonal glands in my kidney. Well, it made sense because that burning was where the kidney's located. Apparently, my other kidney is still asleep...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

"Fired" Again!

Today, I had my 2nd moxibustion session and WOAH - What a difference it felt from yesterday's. It must have opened up my energy channels because I felt the heat very quickly today. Yesterday, it took a long time before I felt the heat on each needle, but today, it was a matter of seconds before I was yelling, "OK-HOT!" , which was my cue for moving on to the next needle. The lady who was firing me up was laughing because just yesterday, I had told her what a high tolerance I had for pain!

I didn't feel any different after the session yesterday, but I remember feeling terribly hot a couple of hours later, which was rather unusual. I mean, I was sweating and feeling uncomfortably hot for no reason. That feeling didn't last though. However my TCM doctor read my pulse today and said that the moxibustion had made a significant difference. That's the kinda stuff I like to hear! I'm stoked! Hopefully that puts me on the fast track to Preggerland!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Come On Baby, Light My Fire!

After discussing with my TCM doctor today, it was decided that we should treat my condition a bit more aggressively. The progress with my daily herb and twice-weekly acupuncture has been slow, and it was not helping me eliminate the "wind" left over from my miscarriage. Wind! Yes it seems I do have "wind" in my body! I am still trying to wrap my head around this "wind" terminology - Apparently it is not the smelly type that comes out of the butthole, nor is it some kind of breeze blowing through your body, but an "evil" thing that is bad for the body. It is a form of chilled condition, or obstruction of energy in the body, or something like that. Anyway, it is bad for me and I have to get rid of it as it is still causing me circulation problems, resulting in blood stasis/endo and cold uterus. That means painful periods, blood clots, and infertility. For optimum fertility, everything in the body has to be warm and flowing.

So today, I started my first Moxibustion treatment. Moxi-what??? It is just a fancy name for a simple procedure that heats up acupuncture needles. First, the needles are poked in the usual places, and then a cigar-like stick made of herbs called moxa (or mugwort) is burnt and placed near each needle to warm it up. The heat is then transmitted through the needles into the body. This warms up and activates the whole energy channel and organs in the body. There is no pain, but it is wise to let the person know when the needle gets hot beyond your comfort! Then it is moved to the next needle. For me, the session lasted 20 minutes, covering a total of 8 needles in my body.

I will do this Moxibustion everyday in addition to my usual herb/acupuncture treatment until my TCM doc feels that my body is well heated up, and I no longer have the cold conditions or wind. I am really looking forward to seeing some real progress and getting this 38 year-old body all revved up for pregnancy. I hope this month is it for me. I am keeping my fingers crossed!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Report Card

I got an "F" on my report card - for my period again this month! This is my 4th period after my miscarriage. I wanted to score an "A" so badly and have a perfect period - one that was pain-free and clot-free! But it was not to be. My body had failed me. Again.

The pain hit me hard, making sure I knew my period had well arrived after 2 days of spotting, and hung around with a vengeance for two full days. Out came my usual emergency coping system - caring husband, hot water bottles, peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, and cat... Painkillers are out of the picture because they irritate my stomach and give me added problems, lengthening my recovery time. So it was mainly comfort stuff that gets me through the agony. My dear husband scored a big "A+++" though for being there for me every step of the way - preparing every meal for me, driving all over town to buy a particular type of sanitary pad I would only use, giving me massages, refilling my hot water bottles, getting me hot drinks and anything else I needed. He's my Hero! I love him so much!

But, I am so tired of having all this pain. And it is difficult to accept, especially since my treatments are suppose to make me better. I am just filled with frustration. And no baby in sight! The only silver lining in this particular cloud is that, my pain only lasted for two days, whereas I would often be in agony at the very minimum of three days! That's at least a whole 24 hours LESS of rolling around in pain and cold sweat. And the flow was not crazily heavy like it normally is. So I suppose there is actually an improvement there. Perhaps that's something to smile about? Well, maybe I should bump my report card up to an "F+" then!