"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. " -Helen Keller

Monday, March 05, 2012

Infertility: Take 2

There are some of you who have been hanging around the Lair for quite a while. I have to guess that some of you remember way back in September '08 when I told y'all that Vic and I had decided to try for our 4th and final baby.  I'm sure those of you who remember also wonder why I went almost completely silent on the subject. With Vic's encouragement and consent, I'm finally going to tel you what's been going on.

Here in the Cruz household, we never tend to do anything in half measures. That applies to medical issues as well as just about everything else. Back in early 2006, Vic was diagnosed with type II diabetes. While it's not a diagnosis anyone wants to get, our attitude at the time was that at least it was a treatable and a manageable disease...little did we know.

I still remember one of the first things Vic's doctor asked him at that first appointment he had about learning to manage his diabetes. Dr. T looked at Vic and asked, "Have you noticed any decrease in your sex drive or ability to perform?" Vic laughed and said, "We have a 3 month old baby. Any change in sex drive has been chalked up to exhaustion." Well, Dr. T told him that erectile dysfunction is a frequent side effect of diabetes (due to impaired blood flow) and, if the sex drive didn't pick back up as the diabetes came under control, Vic should let him know. Viagra was mentioned but nothing was really pursued at that point.

Eventually, Viagra was prescribed and daddy's little helper took care of the issue. When we decided to try to complete our family, Viagra was obviously part of the plan but I didn't think it would have a major roll. Guess once again, thinking should have been labeled as being highly over-rated. Less than 3 months after we started trying again, Vic's diabetes decided to rebel. Blood sugars that had previously been fairly well controlled spiraled out of control. A pancreas that was feeling ignored by the body decided that since the body wasn't using it's insulin well that it would stop making insulin at all. Although he was still technically a type II diabetic, he was now completely insulin dependent and, when you factored in his extreme insulin resistance, he might as well have been a true brittle diabetic. At this point,Viagra did become a big part of our efforts but it became a big part of our TTC efforts not because it helped but because it stopped working reliably.

While Vic's endocrinologist eventually got his blood sugar under control, it took massive doses of insulin to do so. I swear, he takes insulin doses massive enough to drop an elephant in it's tracks. Those massive doses of insulin control his blood sugar levels but they never allowed the Viagra to work well again and the doses of insulin definitely never allowed us to ditch daddy's little helper. In fact, the massive doses of insulin caused (and still cause) all kinds of other issues such as weight gain (yeah, it really is a side effect of large doses of insulin) which exacerbated the diabetes. And, while Vic's blood sugar levels were mostly controlled, his weight went up, his energy levels went way down, and he started to develop peripheral neuropathy.

And, let me tell you, that peripheral neuropathy is a real bitch. When people talk about peripheral diabetic neuropathy, they think about it affecting primarily the feet with numbness and some pain. What no one ever tells you is that peripheral diabetic neuropathy can also cause some loss of sensation in the genital area for men. So, at this point you have blood flow issues and loss of sensation and Viagra not working, our TTC efforts came to a screeching halt. Honestly, I was mourning. I was mourning not only the loss of that potential 4th child but I was mourning the loss of our sex life. I loved and do love my husband. Nothing would ever change that but I missed our sex life.

At some point in all this, Vic had to change endocrinologists and that turned out to be a truly fabulous thing. His new doctor was the one who finally got a handle on his blood sugar and, a little over a year ago, that endocrinologist finally tested Vic's thyroid function...something that should have been checked from day one of his diabetic diagnosis but we didn't know to ask and his doc's missed it. Vic turned out to have a pretty severe case of hypothyroidism. His severely under functioning thyroid was a major cause of his lack of energy. Then, about 3 1/2 months ago, Vic switched endocrinologists once again because, while he loved the doc, the office staff for that doc sucked. The missed getting prescriptions called in, were slack about following up on requests, and Vic had had enough.

Once again, the doctor change turned out to be a wonderful thing. His new is truly sharp and on the ball. She was the first one who ever mentioned to Vic that not only is the thyroid frequently affected by diabetes but, often times, testosterone levels often hit the bottom of the barrel when the thyroid is so severely affected. Sure enough, once again it was a case of doing things in grand fashion. When it was tested, Vic's testosterone levels came back as being abnormally low. It was strike three against any possible TTC efforts and it was a classic case of male factor infertility diabetes style. It was infertility: take 2 for the Cruz family.

And, that is why I went silent on the topic for so long. While it was part of our infertility journey, it wasn't my story to tell...at least, not my story to tell without permission. Also, I just couldn't quite deal with it all until there was a possibility of some solution, some resolution. It was just too disheartening to talk about it all without a possible solution and there is now a potential for a solution. If anyone's interested in the possible solution (strictly medical info), I can talk about that later. This post is massive enough as it is. Thank you to all of you who've bravely soldiered through the reading of it.

Finally, I want to say a special and heartfelt thank you to my wonderful husband, Vic, for allowing me to share this story. It takes a special man to have the confidence to share a story like this. When I asked Vic if it was all right to share about this, he not only said yes, but he told me that he thought it was really important to get this information out so it could possibly help someone. To quote Vic directly, "When your body says fuck you, start getting tests done."