I have been dumbstruck by how many symptoms of my immune system collapse to which I had become so accustomed that I no longer considered them indicators of abnormal or unhealthy. Since the first couple of days after I began taking 60 mg of Prednisone to treat my sky-high Immunoglobulin-E levels and relentless allergic reactions to my environment and myself (my own hair was irritating my skin), I have noticed many changes, including:
* my eyes are not sore or burning and they do not weep while I sleep
* the skin around my eyes is not scaling, flaking, red, sore or peeling even when I forget to apply the steroid cream or antibiotic drops I’ve been on since March
* my inner ear channel is not burning and itching
* my throat is not swollen, sore or itching
* I do not have instant inflammation in my mouth and throat when I eat – even when I eat foods that have some dairy and or gluten in them
* I can breathe through my nose (even after being around environmental allergens)
* I do not feel foggy from a constant barrage of histamines coursing through my system
I did not appreciate how sick I was until now. I rarely get sick usually but I’ve been under this cloud of constant ill-health for months and months. It grew incrementally worse so I didn’t really notice the changes until they combined to create an unliveable situation. However, it took losing our perfect donor-egg embryo in May for me to really question the lie I’d internalized that all of our prior 5 losses since March 2013 were due to my “old eggs” and not an immunological issue or issues. My heart is very heavy with the knowledge that I ignored my gut for months and basically threw away that perfect embryo before listening to my inner voice reminding me that something deeper is amiss and has been that way for a while.
There are downsides to the Prednisone. Menstruation, which made every indication it was on its way, has gone AWOL. I feel a new kind of foggy, one riddled with the jitters and a strange fatigue (I imagine this being how I might feel on uppers and downers at the same time). I am retaining fluid and I feel gross about it. My lower back hurts (I pride myself on not having back pain despite toting a toddler around several hours a day on any given day). And I am depressed. More than I was before I started this drug.
This is the most worrisome symptom. I need to keep an eye on the depression. I’m not on medication for depression or anxiety anymore (I was – coincidentally the last time I was on them was the first time my immune system went off the rails – a long time ago). Today I have considered speaking with my doctor about resuming drugs for depression. I have not made a decision.
I did talk with the LP about anti-depressants last night and why I’ve tried to avoid them while TTC. We talked about how down and flat and unable to enjoy life we are and have been over the past 12-18 months. The LP asked what there is to feel good about, noting I am really sick, I’m on harsh drugs to recover from trying to have a child, we have suffered blow after blow, we are in debt and are stressed about that, our work has suffered which causes more financial stress and general worry, we have no explanation as to why I can’t stay pregnant and have gotten so sick.
The LP is right. Apart from our Miracle Toddler there is nothing about which we feel joyful or glad to be alive. We are surviving – existing at best – but there is no light at the end of the dark tunnel down which we have been staring and walking for what feels like a long time, though I know for others 18 months would seem like nothing. Six dead babies and the loss of my health are not nothing to me, to us, however. This feels like a crossroads.
Last night’s conversation with the LP and a tearful email earlier today to a friend who knows the heartache of losing babies and giving up on TTC led me to wonder if this is the path I should be on anymore. Maybe be it is time to give up? At what point does it all become too much?
As as I wrote to my friend, the more humane and fiscally responsible choice at this point seems obvious. Quitting – giving up on our remaining two DE blastocysts and on any future efforts to try to conceive naturally – seems so much more rational than continuing to smash my face into a wall covered in broken glass.
One thing I know about grief, depression and mood-altering circumstances generally is that they are not optimal environments in which to make lasting or permanent decisions. So I will not make a final decision today. But I am giving serious thought to giving up. At this point it would be irresponsible for me not to do so. Something has got to give.