Life Lately

Hello!

I know it’s been awhile. We’ve been busy traveling almost every weekend. Over Memorial Day we went to Calgary, Canada with friends and ran the Calgary half marathon. The past two weekends were whirlwind trips to Seattle and Denver. We drove to Seattle, spending about the same amount of time driving over as in the city, and Denver was less than 36-hours.

I wanted to post about our fun trip to Calgary that included a night in Great Falls, MT where we saw mermaids at the famed mermaid bar and eating our way through Calgary. I wanted to write about how Seattle was a jam-packed seeing friends and family, and Denver was a relaxing vacation of eating and drinking around the city.

I haven’t been posting though because we have been dealing with insurance fall out from last year when I was flown from Montana to Seattle. I received a call at the beginning of May from the hospital where the fixed-wing plane flew from. Apparently insurance had denied the claim of over $63,000. I was speechless. I called insurance who said that the flight hadn’t been pre-authorized and therefor they wouldn’t cover it, even though our insurance has a policy that they will if it’s medically necessary.

It’s been a lot of back-and-forth and fear that we would be stuck with the bill. I lived in constant anxiety of being in debt. Every time I wanted to buy something I questioned whether I should be saving money. Everyone told me not to worry, we wouldn’t get stuck with the bill, but how can you not worry about that?

We also couldn’t find out who ordered the life-flight. My local hospital didn’t have a note in my medical records, and the hospital in Missoula only had information about an ambulance from Hamilton and another to the airport to get me on the plane. The life-flight hospital didn’t know who had ordered it either. It seemed like the local hospital had dropped the ball.

We finally heard back from the life-flight hospital last Friday that they were adjusting our claim and that we wouldn’t owe them anything for the flight! I have to thank our advocate at the flight hospital for taking over our case and helping us out. There’s no way we could ever afford a $63,000 bill. The news was a huge relief and helped us thoroughly enjoy our getaway.

This whole process would have been easier if insurance had taken care of the flight. Instead, it brought back memories of last year, being in so much pain, landing in Seattle and being told I would have to do chemo during pregnancy, then losing our baby after days of strong heartbeats. It’s not an experience I wanted to relive, yet it was still clinging on to us. Now that this final bill has been taken care of, I hope that we can officially close that chapter of life. I look forward to seeing what life has in store for me. Hopefully less heartache and more joy.

I’ll try to be better about posting as we hit the busy summer season!

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

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Weekend Review – STOKR

You guys, I made it out a live. I completed a century ride on Saturday! I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day or better group of friends (well, it would have been better if Dan were there) to keep me going.

We left Friday afternoon for Libby, MT which is in the northwest part of the state in the Cabinet mountain range. The ride is called STOKR and stands for Scenic Tour of the Kootenai River (they really like their biking acronyms in Montana). It’s a beautiful area with lots of trees and mountains. My friend rented an AirBnB right on the river so we spent a lot of time on the back patio watching the river rush by.

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This is how you get ready for a 100-mile bike ride.

We woke up early Saturday to start riding at 7am. It was 17 miles until the breakfast stop. The first 17 miles were amazing and gorgeous. We rode along the Kootenai River and there was a blanket of fog over the mountains that dissipated as we went along. If you’ve never enjoyed a sunrise in Montana, you’re missing out. The blue skies here are nothing like I’ve seen before and Libby did not disappoint.

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Peaceful sunrise.

The breakfast stop consisted of bread and bagels with peanut butter or cream cheese, some fruit, and cookies. Because eating cookies at 8am is acceptable when one is riding 100 miles.

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We got a little off track…

It was 27 miles to the next stop, the longest stretch. During that time, we encountered a flat tire that cost us 20 minutes, got lost by going on a walking trail instead of staying on the road, and had to climb a super steep hill for four miles straight. We did stop by Yaak Falls where there was a clothes drop off (the weather went from 34 degrees to 70), water, and candy.

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Yaak Falls

I was so happy when we pulled into the second food stop, which was a table filled with carbs. There was potato salad, multiple types of pasta salad, Asian noodles, and of course, cookies. It was probably the best stop of the ride.

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All the carbs in the world.

I left a little before the group to get through the next 17 miles thinking they’d catch up to me, but it didn’t happen until half a mile before the next stop. It was actually pretty nice biking alone, I didn’t feel the need to ride fast to catch up to anyone and could go at my own leisurely speed. I did miss the social aspect of biking though.

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Where Sasquatch turns into the Hulk???

The third stop was soup and sandwiches (and cookies). The sandwich was ok (pretty sure it was from Subway), but their soup options looked pretty good and I went with the salmon chowder. It was a smart choice and I wanted more, but the fear of having too much cream-based soup on a hot afternoon with a 12-mile hill climb ahead stopped me.

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Definitely could have hung out here the entire day.

One of my friends decided to take off early to start the ascent and I followed shortly after. I ended up passing her on mile two and continued climbing. The first four miles were steep, but the ride evened out and I felt confident I could get through the next eight miles (it got steep again at mile six). Around mile 70 my Apple watch decided it was time to shut down, so I debated stopping mid-hill climb and saving my workout (I’ve learned if your watch shuts down it doesn’t save your workout, though I could be wrong because it ended up saving my second ride), or waiting until I got to a flat spot to stop the watch. My pride won out and I stopped mid-hill to save my workout and start a new one that would go until my watch died. I continued up the hill and hoped that it would flatten out soon, but apparently I was going to have to keep climbing until the top.

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Bourbon fuels bike rides.

I kept biking around the same six people, and we cheered each other on as we passed each other. Actually, they would cheer me on as I passed them when they took a break to stretch, and then they would cheer me on again when they passed me after their break. There were fun signs at the last mile that helped me keep going, but I have never been happier to see an aid station when I hit the top (I take what I said back about the carb stop, this was definitely the best one). There were people cheering, a warm fire (it got colder as went over the pass), and the best cookies I’ve ever eaten (and not just because I was exhausted, they were the butterscotch type cookies that also have nuts, one of my favorites). I relaxed and waited for my friends to finish their climb. When they all arrived we enjoyed a swig of bourbon from the flask I’d been carrying around, rested, and then sailed downhill (up to 29 mph!) to the infamous pie stop.

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Not that tasty, but makes for a pretty picture.

I have to admit, I was a little disappointed by the pie stop. My blueberry pie was meh, but my friend’s rhubarb was pretty tasty and I was sad I picked the wrong pie. We didn’t hang out for very long because we were eager to get the ride over with. The last leg of the ride was pretty flat, but I was hoping for more downhill so I wouldn’t have to work so much! I stayed with the group this time, but ended up getting ahead because again, I was eager to get the ride over with! We finally sailed into town and ended up at our AirBnB, but we were only at 97 miles! There was no way I wasn’t going to finish a century ride. We went to the race hotel to pick up clothes we had dropped off earlier, and took a scenic tour through town to get those last three miles in. I was exhausted, but it was worth it.

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The view biking into town.

It’s hard to believe that nine months ago I was finishing up chemo and couldn’t muster enough energy to get off the couch. My hematologist said that it could take awhile before I got back to my old energy and strength levels. I would like to think that I’m rocking this whole post-chemo/radiation thing.

Now that I’m finished training for STOKR I was planning on turning my attention to my half-marathon Memorial Day weekend in Calgary, but I have run into complications of being a female and spending too much time biking and on the saddle. Hopefully things will clear up soon and I’ll be able to start running again. If not, well… This may be the worst half-marathon I’ve ever run. Oh well. At least Calgary will have great food and shopping!

Have a great rest of your week!

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

Weekend Review + Update

Pike Place Market

I realize it’s almost the weekend and I’m just now doing last weekend’s review. It’s been a busy week including getting back at midnight on Monday, and almost going to the ER last night for horrible stomach pains (I’ll touch on this later in the post).

Dan and I flew to Seattle Thursday night for my scan on Friday. This scan was CT only, so I had to hang out and drink contrast for an hour before the scan. It also took two nurses and three tries to get an IV in. My veins are over being poked and close up and start rolling as soon as a needle gets close. Luckily, they were able to draw my labs at the same time so I didn’t have to get poked for a fourth time that day.

After my scan, we went to another appointment, then headed to University Village (probably my favorite place on Earth) for a quick bite and drink at Eureka! and some shopping. We then headed downtown to meet up with the friends we were staying with, and Dan’s two sisters (who flew in from the Bay Area) for dinner at Serious Pie.

Saturday morning we woke up to a beautiful Seattle spring morning. JK, it was pouring buckets and my friend debated doing yard work as we drank coffee by the window. After Dan got up, we headed downtown to meet up with his family (the rest flew in from the Bay Area) at Serious Biscuit (his family loves Tom Douglas). We did a little shopping downtown then had a snack of oysters at Blueacre before dinner at Steelhead Diner in the market (which was a little disappointing).

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Oysters, never disappointing.

Dan’s family left after breakfast of Top Pot donuts on Sunday, then we hung out with friends for the rest of the day, we also had Thai food at one of my college hangouts. Dan flew home that night.

Monday morning I had my appointment with Dr. Goff. Scans were negative and my physical exam was clean! Six more months of being cancer-free! I wasn’t that concerned, but I have been having some issues lately that made me wonder if something was going on. This is going to get a little TMI here, but one of those issues was going to the bathroom.

After the tumor removal and hysterectomy, some of my organs were moved around and going to the bathroom (both) were uncomfortable. Things started to go back to normal, but then chemo and radiation caused some constipation issues. I thought things were ok, but lately I’ve been having horrible stomach pains, really sharp and out of nowhere. I attributed it to gas pains and thought it would pass, especially since I had experienced this before in my mid-20s. The stomach pain showed up again on Tuesday but it went away after a short time. Yesterday though, the pains started around 3pm, and they never went away. They got worse as the night went on and I ended up calling Dr. Goff’s office. Her resident on-call put me on a regimen of Miralax/Docusate/Senna, but when I tried to eat a little pb&j to take Tylenol and Ibuprofen, I threw it up. I was on the ground curled up and wailing in pain, and Dan wanted me to go to the ER. We headed down there, but I started to feel better, so after sitting in the parking lot we decided to go back home (I will not go into a diatribe about how messed up this country is that people don’t want to go to the ER because of cost). We got back home and I tried to take another bite of sandwich and drink more Miralax and I threw up again. This time, instead of laying back down, I sat up leaning against pillows. Dan said my face was turning slightly blue, but I was so exhausted I didn’t want to try and get back in the car. I covered myself in blankets and fell asleep sitting up.

I woke up this morning feeling much better. I had a small stomach pain, but it went away quickly and wasn’t as strong as last night. I took more Miralax/Docusate/Senna, and was able to have two movements today. While I no longer have the gas pains, I am having cramps from all the softeners. My body is really loving me right now. Apparently this is something I need to keep an eye on for the rest of my life. Chemo can mess with your gut flora and radiation has effected my bowels. I know now to not let this linger. If something isn’t normal, I’m going to start taking softeners right away and not let it almost send me to the ER again.

And on that note, I’ll leave you with these beautiful macarons from Ba Bar.

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Macarons are the best, especially when they’re complimentary!

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

Back to Life

Olá! After two and a half weeks, we’re finally back from South America. Ok, technically we got back last Wednesday, but we’ve been busy and fighting jet lag, I haven’t had time to write anything.

I have so much to tell about our adventures through Buenos Aires, Uruguay, and Brazil. Our favorite city was Buenos Aires, but our favorite eating was in Rio. I’ll write posts for each of the countries we visited, and what life was like on a luxury cruise line (where we were easily the youngest people on the boat by 20 years).

Pictured above is a building in beautiful Paraty, Brazil. Easily one of my favorite stops, minus the fact that it was 94 degrees, plus 92 degrees humidity, which equals 132 degree heat index. It’s a good thing I had been going to hot yoga before the trip, because that’s the only way I could breathe through it. Fun fact, Paraty is also where the Twilight honeymoon takes place.

I can’t wait to tell you about our trip! It’s crazy to think you spend so long planning a trip, and then it goes by in a flash. We had this trip booked 8 months in advance, which is one of the “shortest” timelines we’ve ever had. Normally, we book trips almost 11 months in advance because we use airlines miles and jump on tickets as soon as they’ve been released (example: upcoming Europe Christmas trip that was booked at the end of January).

South America was beautiful and we can’t wait to go back. Be sure to look for future posts about our adventures!

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

One Year

One year ago today, I received a call from my doctor asking if Dan and I could come into the office ASAP. One year ago today we sat in her office and I blatantly asked if I had cancer because she was describing things, but not using the word. One year ago today our world turned upside down.

This past year has seemed to crawl by. It seems like ages ago Dan and I were traveling to Seattle and Houston to decide my treatment plan. Chemo and radiation seem like a distant memory from years past, not something I just went through six months ago.

Today though, I am spending the day biking around Montevideo with Dan and spending time with his mom and stepdad. I thought by this point we would have a six-month old taking over our life, but instead it’s just me and Dan. Life may not be where I thought it would at 33, but I’m taking what I have and trying to make the most of it.

I feel better and am getting stronger. I recently ran 5.5 miles at a 9:18 pace, then ran three miles under a 9 minute pace the next day. I’ve started doing spin, yoga, hot yoga, and rock climbing.

Dan and I have booked a trip to Europe over Christmas and will have that to look forward to once we’re back from South America. While Dan and I have traveled a lot this past year, minus a work trip to Boston, everything has been for health reasons. We haven’t seen his siblings in over a year since his youngest sister got married last September. We’re hoping to meet up with them, his dad, and stepmom in Seattle in April, and we’ll be doing a week in Hawaii to celebrate his stepmom’s birthday.

We’re trying very hard to make up for all that was lost last year. While I know nothing will take away the pain that we have gone through, trying to enjoy what we do have helps to ease some of it. Here’s looking to future adventures.

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

Three Month Check-up

I got back from a quick Seattle trip late last night (early this morning technically). I had my three month follow-up with Dr. Goff’s nurse practitioner. The exam was short, fast, and only slightly painful. The exam was good though, nothing out of sorts. It’s always nerve-wrecking going into these things. My next follow-up is in April, when I’ll do another scan.

Less than two years to go of every three month check-ups. I’m looking forward to that time! While I love visiting my friends in Seattle, it’d be nice to use that airplane ticket to go somewhere else… We haven’t visited family in almost a year. The only trip we went on last year (minus NYC which was planned before pregnancy and cancer) was to Boston, and that was tacking on to my work trip. We’re headed to South America next month and can’t wait for that trip to happen.

I went out for a friend’s birthday on Saturday, and after a few too many drinks, I broke down crying. I have been so stressed out over last year and lost my ability to cry things out. While I feel bad for crying to all my friends (and being a hot mess), I woke up Sunday with a weight off my shoulders. It was nice to get all that emotion out. Though, it would be nicer if I could cry like I used to instead of holding everything in. I used to be one of those people who cried at the smallest things like commercials. I’ve found myself to be more cynical after last year and having trouble with letting go of emotions (unless apparently there is wine involved).

I am hoping to return to my old self, even if it means going back to silly things like crying at Google and Maxwell House commercials. 2018 is already starting to look up, so I’m hopeful that the old Gina will return.

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

Hello 2018!

Happy New Year! As with everything I do, this message comes a little late. But at least it showed up, right? I hope you had a great Christmas and New Year. I had time off between the two holidays and had grand plans for reading, cooking, blogging, and binge-watching Big Little Lies, but instead I got sucked into reading the new Dan Brown novel, Origin, and then began re-reading the Robert Langdon series. Should I have read something a little more thought-provoking? Maybe. But it was a fun way to finish out the year — A little European, art history adventure.

Dan and I hosted Christmas dinner for friends who were staying in Montana which was a fun evening filled with good food (crab over-nighted from Seattle!) and lots of wine and bourbon. New Years Eve was spent in Spokane at our new favorite bar, Durkins. We sipped French 75s and champagne all night. I may have fallen asleep at our hotel before the fireworks went off.

2017 was a horrible year, but it also brought a lot of support and love. I’m hopeful for 2018. I am going to try and spend this year enjoying life and doing more things. I want to make up for things that didn’t happen last year: travel, cooking, baking, reading, outdoor adventures, and more.

We are headed to South America next month, and are planning on running the Calgary marathon/half marathon (and hopefully the Lululemon SeaWheeze half marathon in Vancouver). We’re hoping for another big trip around Christmas as well. And of course, my every 3-month follow-ups in Seattle start up again next week. We’ve talked to family about doing a weekend meet-up in Seattle for one of these trips.

My friend gave me a Great British Bake Off calendar for my birthday, and I plan on making the baked good on the calendar each month. Great for dusting off my baking pans, maybe not so great for my waistline, but definitely worth it! I have also started borrowing cookbooks from the library to try different recipes. I was barely in the kitchen last year, and this year I’m going to make up for it.

As for reading, I should challenge myself to read books with a purpose. I love a good dystopian novel, perhaps throwing in a book about finance or self-betterment wouldn’t hurt. I’m also hoping to spend more time reading instead of watching TV shows that I don’t even like.

And finally, I’m sure outdoor adventures will come. Our love of trying new things and living in Montana, I have no fear we’ll get out and do things.

Here’s to a great 2018!

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

Update

Hello!

It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? My bad. Dan and I went to Boston at the end of September/beginning of October for my work conference (which I’ll make another post on), then he went to Belgium for work and I went to Seattle for my three month check up.

Great news: my PET/CT scan and exam came back clean!

I flew to Seattle on a late Wednesday night so I could go to a dress rehearsal of the Barber of Seville on Thursday night with a friend, then have my PET/CT scan on Friday morning. Side note: the Barber of Seville is amazing and if you get the chance to see it, you should. 

While I was pretty sure my scan would be good, there’s always that underlying fear that they would find something. It was also a very emotional day for me. Two days before, I had sent flowers to a friend who had had a baby, but I just wanted to let her and her husband know that we were happy for them and thinking about them. She responded with a picture of them and their baby and an update, which I apparently wasn’t ready for. I ended up crying on the flight over. The next day, a friend informed me another friend that I had planned on seeing during my trip was pregnant, and without meaning to, I started crying again. I was happy for my friend, but sad for our loss and for my pregnancy that would never be. Then I was angry at myself for being so upset over a friend’s happy news. And then I was stressed out about whether I should see my friend or not.

When I got to my scan, they had to ask the question: Are you pregnant or breastfeeding? And I lost it. I started crying and replied, “Can you please make sure that this question isn’t asked again?” The tech was so kind and said she would try her best to make sure notes would show up so this wouldn’t show up on my normal questionnaire.

I thought about my MRI in Houston during my Pet/CT scan. I remember Dan being in the room with me, his hand on my foot the whole time, trying to comfort me during everything. I remembered looking at our baby on the screen, and the tech trying to show us what she thought was the best angle. I remembered her making a comment of the baby not moving that much, even though before the scan she said babies usually moved a lot. I remembered wondering if that was the first sign that things weren’t going to end well.

It was hard to go back to that day. A couple tears rolled from my eyes, but I couldn’t move to dry my face and it was so cold. I said to the tech, “I know you’re not supposed to say anything, but can you tell me anything?” and she answered, “Well, I could see you bladder filling during the scan, and normally if I see something that’s worrisome I would have asked you to empty your bladder again. I didn’t do that, so… Take that as you will.”

I was so relieved and I texted Dan who was flying back from Belgium at that moment. He flew out for the day that Monday when we had an appointment with Dr. Goff. We sat in the waiting room nervously, and I was trying to get work done while we waited. When they called us back, we passed Dr. Goff who was sitting at her computer and had just dialed a number on her phone.

“I have good news for you!” she yelled as we walked down the hall. What an amazing feeling. Dan and I looked at each other and smiled, we both felt a hundred pounds lighter. Apparently we both looked so scared and sad, that she needed to relieve our fears before our appointment. I reminded her of our April appointment when the first thing she said to us was, “I have bad news.”

When she came in for my exam, she said the scan was clean. She did an exam and said everything looked good there as well. She did let us know that because one of my lymph nodes from the April biopsy was positive, I am at a 20-25% chance of the cancer coming back. We will monitor it by going back every three months for an exam with Dr. Goff, and every six months we will add a CT scan as well.

Is it possible that we have gotten through the worst? That I am now cancer-free? I’m cautious to be so excited, but hopeful that the worst is behind us.

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

IVF

After Dan and I got word that the cone biopsy didn’t go our way, Dr. Goff set us up with the UW IVF clinic. We made our way to University Reproductive Health and wondered why things couldn’t go our way.

When we got to the office, both of us crying, we were taken to the financial counselor’s office. She talked to us about what our insurance would and wouldn’t cover, and just listened as we cried. The MA then came and took us to an exam room. She was so kind and brought us water and me a blanket while we waited for the doctor.

Dr. Neal-Perry came in and gave us a crash-course in IVF. I don’t remember everything from that first appointment. It’s all a hazy blur, but we agreed we would start as soon as possible, which meant I was going to stay in Seattle until the process was done (which ended up being 6 weeks–also included 2 weeks dog sitting for friends). We met other nurses in the office and made another appointment for me on Tuesday, and one for Dan on Wednesday so he could get started on his part.

That night I didn’t go to Good Friday mass. I texted my friends with my news, and watched the Sounders lose to Vancouver. My best friend left to go to mass, and came back with dinner from Ivars. We went to bed early with the plan that I would stay with my best friend through the weekend, then move to another friend’s house who was close to the hospital so I could make my many trips.

Dan left Saturday morning, leaving me without a car and the only 3 outfits I had packed for the trip. I spent the weekend with my best friend, spending Easter with her family, and spending time on an emotional roller-coaster of sadness, anger, and laughing.

I wasn’t as broken as I thought I would be. After the miscarriage I shut down. I couldn’t speak to anyone but my best friend, and another close friend who lived in Omaha. I spoke to a friend in Hamilton who suffered the loss of her baby, knowing he would die after he was born. But this time, I was able to talk to my friends. I told everyone what had happened. I didn’t hide away like I did last time. I don’t know why. Maybe it was because I had IVF to occupy me, or maybe I’m just a stronger person than I thought.

I also shared our story on Facebook, and asked if anyone had experience with a gestational carrier, or if anyone was interested in being a gestational carrier. I actually got a couple replies.

My friend who I would be staying with came with me to my first appointment. She is a neurology PA and knows the UW system. It was helpful for me to go with someone in the medical field, and who knew the best ways to get my care. The nurse practitioner walked us through a slideshow of the process of IVF. Instead of joining in a group class, I was having a private lesson and going to do a “quick start”, meaning I was going to forego any of the IVF prep and just start injecting hormones. We also needed to follow certain FDA guidelines since we have use a gestation carrier.

Dan flew in Tuesday night for his appointment on Wednesday. We had paperwork to sign and Dan also needed to get his… contribution to IVF inspected. They weren’t sure whether he would need to donate once or twice, or if there were any issues. There was confusion once we got to the men’s clinic though. Paperwork wasn’t filled out correctly, and the clinic had thought we were there for the ACTUAL contribution, instead of examination. I was in the middle of a work meeting (yes, I was working in the waiting room of the men’s clinic — joys of working from home) when Dan called me and told me I needed to come back there. I pretty much hung up on my boss and walked back there. I sorted everything out by saying this wasn’t the actual contribution, it was for examination. I refused to let the visit go by without something happening. Dan did not pay hundreds of dollars to fly out for 24 hours to sign paperwork. Once I talked to the nurse, and explained it wasn’t the actual donation, he said it would be no problem to do that. There was some back and forth between my office and the men’s clinic, and me trying not to yell at anyone, but Dan was able to do his stuff.

We then went back to the IVF clinic to talk to financial counselor again since Friday was a blur to both of us. Once we started learning of the cost what things would cost since insurance doesn’t cover gestational carriers, I started to cry.

“This isn’t fair. We shouldn’t even be here,” I cried.

“No one wants to be here,” the counselor said.

“But I was pregnant a month ago,” I practically screamed. “I have no problem getting pregnant, I just have a diagnosis that won’t let me.”

The counselor looked shocked. I’m not sure if she didn’t remember us from Friday, or our circumstances, but her tone changed. I must have looked inconsolable, because they took us back and I was able to talk to the nurse manager who was so sweet and amazing. I just cried and told her how it wasn’t fair. That I shouldn’t be there. Getting pregnant wasn’t a problem, it was carrying the baby that was.

I know I sound like a brat. Many women deal with infertility, I’m not a special snowflake in that instance. I felt like a fraud being in the office. I felt like I had no reason being there, Dan and I had no problem getting pregnant. Our problem was being able to carry the baby. I didn’t think it was fair that we would have to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars to do something I was so sure I could do on my own. I hate cancer.

It was decided I would start my medication the following Sunday. Sunday night I began taking Letrozole, and Monday night at 6pm I got my first Gonal-F shot from my PA friend with Dan on Facetime. Wednesday, I had an appointment with the nurse practitioner where I signed more FDA paperwork, and Friday morning I had my first ultrasound appointment with my doctor to see how the meds were working. Dan had an appointment on Friday to make his first (and what would be only) contribution.

While I stayed active every night, getting in as much friend time as I could, I had to pause everything at 5:58pm and prep my skin so I could give myself my shot. One of my favorite memories of this, was when I started to take Menopur and Cetrotide and had to mix the two, my PA friend and I had to leave the bar before a Sounders game to give myself a shot. She was two beers in, and we sat in the backseat of her car in Pioneer Square (a bit of a sketchy Seattle neighborhood), and she mixed the two shots and we injected myself three times. Right after, a homeless gentleman walked up to the car and we ended up having a short conversation with him as we cleaned up the car and headed back to the bar.

One thing I learned about this process, is that I’m very fertile. Both sides of my ovaries had well over 20 follicles and most were producing eggs. Every time I went in for my ultrasounds, the doctor would count over 25 follicle sizes on each ovary. This put me at high risk for OHSS – Ovarian Hyperstimulation Symptom. AKA my ovaries were weighed down and were at high-risk of ovarian torsion. This meant no exercising, stretching, twisting, etc. I was relegated to just walking.

There was hope that they could do the egg retrieval on Tuesday, but alas, my fast growing eggs were slowing to a halt and weren’t growing those extra couple millimeters. I ended up ordering one more days worth of Cetrotide (which was annoying to deal with insurance, and then end up not needing to use it), but I was scheduled for egg retrieval on Thursday. I was so happy to not be giving myself shots anymore. It was painful and my stomach was tired of being used as a pin cushion.

Thursday morning I took a half day off of work and was picked up by a friend who drove me to the clinic. I was an hour and a half early for my appointment, but I had brought a book and settled in to read it. One of the medical assistants saw me come in,and brought me back to a room so I could read in peace and quiet. It was so kind and thoughtful.

The procedure was quick and simple. It was so different than being in the hospital though. I was the only patient, and I got a lot of extra care from the nurse, MA, and anesthesiologist (who may have also been my anesthesiologist from my hospitalization procedure in March, we were trying to figure that out). I warned them about my tendency to cry under anesthesia. I also met the embryologist, and confirmed a couple times that it was definitely Dan’s vial he was using to create embryos with my eggs.

Going under was a lot slower this time, I could feel myself slowly falling asleep when I started talking about how sad I was that this was the closest I would ever get to being pregnant again. The MA, anesthesiologist, and Dr. Neal-Perry were great though, they tried to get me to focus on vacations to South Africa as I fell asleep.

I woke up about 30 minutes later with tears rolling down my cheeks.

“I’m crying again, aren’t I?” I asked.

The nurse smiled and nodded.

“Go have fun this weekend. Go drink that glass of champagne.”

I had no clue what she talked about. And then I remembered talking to her before the surgery about wanting to go home this weekend for my friend’s wedding, but that if I couldn’t fly home, then I could stay in town for a friend’s bacherolette party who was flying in from Georgia, and who’s wedding I would be unable to attend in July. As expected, I wasn’t allowed to fly home, and instead spent an amazing weekend with friends celebrating.

Another friend picked me up and drove me back to our friend’s. Have I mentioned what amazing friends I have? There’s absolutely no way I could have gotten through any of this without them.

The egg retrieval was successful. 24 eggs were retrieved and now we have embryos waiting for us when we’re ready to begin the process. We paid and did the PGS process, hoping to find the strongest embryos to use. The doctor also knows the sex of each embryo. I want to find out, but Dan wants to wait. While I would love to choose the sex, I feel like I’ve played God enough in this process, so we’ll let the doctor decide.

IVF was not something I’d ever thought I’d need. Being quickly forced into the process though, I couldn’t have asked for a better office to go through this with. Dr. Neal-Perry and her staff were amazing. The nurses were so kind, understanding, funny, and made the process easier. The medical assistants did everything to make our appointments run smoothly, and just wanted everything for us to be easy. While I hope no one has to go through this, if you do, University Reproductive Health in Seattle is a great choice. Any question I had was answered, concern noted, and I just felt like everyone there cared about me. They understood how frustrating this was for us to go through, and they let me bitch about it non-stop. I cannot say enough positive things about this office.

Speaking of amazing people, my friends. Without my friends driving me everywhere, letting me borrow their cars, poking me with needles, being shoulders to cry on, I’d probably be in a ball crying still. I’m so lucky to be able to go through and have such an amazing support system.

And with that, I wrap up my story of Winter/Spring 2017. With the pregnancy, cancer diagnosis, hospitalizations, cone biopsy, and radical hysterectomy I’m ready for all this to end. I still have chemo and radiation to get through this summer. And I’m sure I’ll continue to look back at certain instances and write about them more, but with this, the big story has finally been told.

XOXO,

Gossett Girl

The Surgery Results

It’s official. I’m uterus-less. And fallopian tube-less. And appendix-less. Wait, what?!?! The day after the surgery, when my favorite resident was sitting down and chatting with my mom and I, she casually mentioned taking out my appendix. Somehow my mom knew, but this was brand-new information to me.

“Wait, you took my appendix out?!”

“Yes. Dr. Goff said it had high risk of perforation, so she took it out so you wouldn’t need another surgery.”

Apparently there was some stuff on my appendix that could make it burst. Also, my appendix was super long, much longer than normal, and Dr. Goff didn’t want it to get radiated and also burst. Essentially, my appendix would have burst some day and emergency surgery is never fun. This also goes to prove that my body is just greaaaaaaaat at growing things. Babies, cancer, organs, etc.

But back to the surgery. Dr. Goff said everything went great. At least, as well as a radical hysterectomy could go for a 32 year-old who can never have a baby. All my margins came back negative and the lymph node she took was negative as well. There was still cancer in what was left of my cervix, so she was 100% confident that this surgery was the correct decision.

I’m actually doing pretty well a week-and-half later. I almost have feeling back in  my stomach. It’s the strangest feeling. I can put my hand on where it’s numb, or coming back, and I can tell something is there but I can’t feel anything. I’m sleeping pretty well now. The first week was painful, it hurt to roll over, to lay down, to lay on a certain side, but it’s better now. Not 100%, but maybe 90%. I’m probably not walking as much as I should, but I went on a walk Monday after work and made it half the block before I needed to turn around. I couldn’t even make it to the mailbox. Tomorrow we’re going to Missoula though, so wish me luck there.

It’s a little hard realizing the surgery has come and gone. I spent so much of my time fearing the hysterectomy. Losing the ability to carry a baby is heartbreaking and I never thought it would happen to me. When it finally happened though, I felt ready. Ready to close this chapter and start the next one. It showed during the anesthesia as well. I vaguely remember crying on the way to surgery, but I didn’t cry when I came out of it. To be fair, whatever anesthetic concoction they  mixed for me this time was a doozy. I felt sleepy even before Dan left pre-op, and I don’t remember coming out of it at all. I can’t remember post-op, and I sort of remember being in my room with my parents, best friend, and Dan. Dan went to Din Tai Fung with his parents and tried to feed me some fried rice, which I gagged on and demanded a popsicle. Apparently I was also demanding popsicles in post-op. I turn into a 5-year-old in the hospital.

I’ve been back at work since Monday so that has helped keep my mind off things. Even if Monday was a lot of cringing and staring at the computer screen wondering what I was doing. My mother-in-law has also offered to take us on a South American cruise in February, which is beyond amazing. I have put a ton of effort into research cruises and itineraries. It’s helped me not to focus on our journey to have a baby.

Our next step is chemo and radiation. I have an appointment on Monday, June 26 to discuss chemo, and another one Friday, June 30 for radiation treatment. This is when I learned that a) they’re different doctors, b) the universe wants me to support the oil industry by making my appointments in Missoula on two different days. I have a follow-up appointment in Seattle on July 10.

Ah Seattle. I miss Seattle, and my friends. While Montana is beautiful, I’ve learned I’m a city girl at heart and can’t wait to get back home some day.

Until then…

XOXO,

Gossett Girl