Oh I do like to be beside the seaside …

Beach

Both Kayak Man and I love the water so we decided it was high time we paid a local beach a visit taking advantage of the wonderful sunshine that is all too rare around these parts. A short train trip and viola – sun, sand, sea and ice cream.  Puuurfect.  The beach was busier than we expected: actually full of school classes out on trips having their own build a sand castle competitions. Some of these creations were pretty impressive. This is the first summer that Kayak Man and I are really able to enjoy, seen as he is still job hunting and my health is much better. A simple day and so much fun.

I love the people watching: the school groups, the families, the dog walkers… everybody seeming to have a good time. I have to admit though, sometimes I see something that, well, I just have to turn and walk away from. Today was no exception. Next to me was a family with a young lad about 3 years or so old who was busy playing with some plastic dinosaurs in the sand. Really cute kid… who then finds a huge shard of glass that looked like it was from a broken beer bottle. Of course this is a most exciting find and now he’s tossing it around and playing with the thing and mum is looking on giggling. I am not making any judgment on this lady’s mothering abilities but I am just too neurotic to sit and watch this little guy play with a sharp pointy object of broken glass. I have to make him stop OR walk away. Now, far be it from me to tell someone how to parent so walk away it is, Kayak Man trailing behind confused at the sudden movement.

Soon we’re at the waters edge because you know I simply can’t go to the beach and not dip my toes in. This time our next door neighbors are a family with a very small child who looked like he was having his first time in the water splashing about like a true water baby and giggling his little head off in the process. Anyone notice how infectious that uninhibited child’s giggle is? Seriously, we need to put more effort into trying to bottle it as I’m sure it would be more powerful than any current anti depressant. Just saying.

And then it happened. We ended up in this really deep conversation about life, the universe and everything (in our case, how much we want to relocate when we should do that “W” thing) completely by accident. As we’re wondering round the beach in no particular direction, meandering through our plans for the future with the same type of casual relaxed ease, Kayak Man looks at me and says ” I want us to have  kids just as much as you do ya know” … and in that moment a few things happened. My heart stopped and hovered on the edge of braking for a moment or two. But this time, instead of just shutting down with the old “never gonna happen, move on now now NOW … you’re hurting me” attitude, I found myself just saying “yeah I know” and wondering if maybe the door that leads to treatment and a long long scary journey was unbolted. If it was – if we decide together to go that way in the future – right now I’m ok with that.

And I get bonus points because I didn’t even cry!

Ali xX

Can I have a word … Derek Jeter.

Dear Mr. Jeter,
I hope you are well. I have to say this because recently when I see you play you seem to be wearing more support strapping with every at bat and I worry one day you are going to appear in an all over body support that will leave you looking like an Olympic swimmer under those pinstripes. It’s concerning for a Yankee fan, who became so partly due to the intoxicating atmosphere at the old Yankee Stadium, but in no small part due to the fact that she was taken to a game by her sports fan father and brother and this very impressionable British girl took a shine to one of the many men trying to hit that ridiculously fast moving ball a redonkulously long way with what looked like a very small piece of wood. You were in your first couple of seasons then, and while your career has progressed from strength to strength, you’ll be relieved to know that my knowledge and love of America’s Game has increased beyond measure. I actually have a clue what’s going on now.  I know that while pitches always look fast they are actually traveling in several different ways.  I know that you’re NOT trying to hit the ball out of the park every single time because, well, there’s all this strategy.  I know that this game is an awful lot more complicated than it first appears, despite the assertion that its a simple game: you throw the ball, you hit the ball you catch the ball. I know that win or lose you roll with the punches, always play hard and NEVER cry. And I finally discovered what these Cracker Jack things someone is supposed to buy me are almost 10 years after I first heard that famous song.

I also know that there is no place I’d rather be than at a ball park, watching a game even though this is only a very rare pleasure for me given the whole “Atlantic Ocean gets in the way” problem. Because of this, I don’t call myself a true fan. I am simply unable to follow the team or the game in the way that I would like because of time zones, distances, etc. I can’t see every game. I guess I don’t have die hard loyalties to one team or the understanding of the game that comes with growing up at the ball park, but I’m trying.

I’m left with these questions and I figure you’re rocking the world of baseball as Yankee captain, so when it comes to the game if you don’t know the answers, well, there must just not be an answer.  That, and you seem like an all-round approachable chap (that’s British for nice guy), so I’m hoping you could take a few minutes of your time to read the musings of a confused Brit who just wants to understand the game you love and maybe clear a few things up.

Like, for example, why do some batters tap the plate with the tip of the bat before lifting it above there head? Is it a good luck thing?  Is it some tradition I don’t know about? Is it to remind you just how small the pitchers strike zone actually is, so you don’t freak out at the fact that a hard  ball is about to come hurling at you over 80 miles an hour? Does it help? Why do some players tap once… some twice, some not at all. It’s very strange.

Added to this the whole circling the bat above your head thing. Again, some do, some don’t. Does that help with momentum? Is it some odd attempt to distract the pitcher?  Why, Derek, Why ?

Moving on.. some other things I don’t understand: why all the spitting / chewing gum with your mouth open  / scratching… I know, I know… you are guys and its a guys game and well its just how ball players are, but really they are fowl habits and some traditions should be ended even in baseball. I’m telling you, Yankee captain or not, if you spit on the floor in my house I will show you the door and that’s a promise, so why spit all over the park? Eww… the gum chewing thing has me even more puzzled when you’re in the batter’s box, getting ready for your swing. Does the rhythmic chewing  help you there too, because I have to tell you with all that exertion I freak out that one of you is going to breathe in at the wrong moment sending the gum to the back of your throat and causing you to choke to death. Yeah, maybe I’m neurotic but you know it could happen!? OK… scratching the groin: I will never understand the need but also being a woman and therefore not encumbered with those… umm… additions to my body, I guess I can’t judge you.  It may be much more of a hindrance than I realize. I don’t know. So if you can’t avoid the need to rearrange in public, do you think we could at least have some type of camera man education program because, let’s be honest, the close up shots of an at the time faceless ball player rearranging the furniture are kind of distracting and NOT in a good way. I’m sure you’re not too fond of the world and his wife getting an eye full either?

I’m convinced that you guys are just so focused on what you need to do in the game in front of you, your next at bat, the next play, etc. that sometimes you forget where you are and just how many people are watching. I have to confess to being appalled lately when, during your recent encounters with the Braves, I caught some shots of the dugout littered with cups and all kinds of crap. How hard is it to find a trash can? Seriously?  I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that while watching a game I can drop my peanut shells allover the floor without a barrage of disapproving looks that shames me into picking them up… but my few shells are nothing compared to the mess in there. I pity the poor person that has to clear up after you guys. Do you have a trash can in there?

I could go on and on but you’re a busy man so I will leave it at that. Thanks for listening to a confused fan looking at your world through foreign eyes. Now get back to work because the Yankees are the best team in baseball and, at the time of this writing, we have at least 4 games to make up, if we want to prove it.  I’ll be rooting for you and the boys.  LET’S GO YANKEES!!!

All the best from a worshiper of the church of baseball

Ali xX

PCOS and your fertility.

I’ve was following the Verity twitter feed because they were Tweeting live from a one day conference they held on PCOS and fertility. For those of you that don’t know, Verity is the patient group that supports UK women with PCOS and you can find the twitter feed here :

Here are most of  the day’s tweets in order.

Oh and the abbreviations you might need to know:

FSH = Follicle Stimulating Hormone

LH = Luteinizing Hormone

NICE= National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

PCT= Primary Care Trusts

Here goes:

No increased risk of miscarriage is not greatly increased if at all in women (long-term study from Finland)

one reason miscarriage reported to be higher in PCOS women is due to following pregnancy from very early stage

Hmmm these first two sort of make sense to me and they leave me feeling somewhat hopeful… wonder if I can find more details on this study!?

Follicles get ‘stuck’ in women with PCOS, probably due to abnormal hormone environment & suppression of FSH

Abnormal hormone environment: higher levels of LH, high levels of insulin (in overweight women) & lower levels of FSH

Overweight women who lose 5-10% can see vast improvement in symptoms (Kiddy 1992, Clark 1995, Normal 2002, Steele 2005)

This I know to be true  just from the improvement I saw when I was lighter two years ago as compared to now. Getting my weight to stop swinging from one to the other though… uuugh frustrating!

Clomid has been used for more than 40 yrs as an estrogen blocker to increase FSH levels & trigger ovulation in PCOS women

Clomid has 75-80% ovulatory rate but still has multiple pregnancy rate of around 10%, ultrasound monitoring should be in 1st cycle

Clomid generally not recommended to be under GP in 1st cycle as they don’t have facility for ultrasound monitoring.

Slim women with PCOS generally have surge of follicles with Clomid, so dose would be reduced on next cycle

Women with higher LH & testosterone can be Clomid resistant, not generally given with BMI over 30 & preferable <25

Yikes I’m sitting here with a BMI around 37 and raised testosterone levels, a lot of work to do if I want this drug to have a shot at helping me .

Women with BMI over 30 that have tried to lose weight can be tried on Clomid.

I’m a pessimist I guess. This sounds like a set up for heartache to me :S

Low-dose, step up FSH regimen has been used for more than 20 yrs. typical start at 50 units per day, then 75, 100 and 125

Clomid used on women with BMI >40 *CAN* work but is very rarely successful

Must lose weight Ali … must try harder.

Ovarian drilling is successful but not quite sure why – success rate btwn low dose FSH & ovarian drilling is comparable

Dutch study: conception rate in Clomid & Metformin = 40% … Clomid & placebo is 40%

Nth American study: live birth rate w Clomid & Metformin = 26.8%, Clomid & placebo = 22.5% and Metformin & placebo = 7.2%

Man those live birth rates SUCK 😦 … I say again PCOS you are a bitch with little mercy and feeling less hopeful again

Metformin has a place in reducing insulin levels but not as a line of fertility treatment.

In a great number of women with PCOS, it is possible to restore normal ovulation.

Wonder will I ever be on the right side of these numbers … hmmmm ?

Q: Thoughts on ovulation prediction kits? They are useful but not accurate in women with PCOS due to higher levels of LH

Cervical mucus comes just prior to ovulation. Temperature rise is after ovulation. Egg disappears quickly after ovulation.

Oh for the simpleness of have sex, get pregnant without ever hearing the phrase cervical mucus … Sadly it was not to be.

Q: Clomid ovarian cancer study – thoughts? A: after initial scare, studies have been reassuring… will go up to 9 cycles.

Q: if you don’t get pregnant after 6 Clomid cycles, what’s next? A: Look at low dose FSH injections

Q: Correlation btwn severity of symptoms & fertility? A: Not a lot of difference in rates of ovulation & pregnancy.

Q: what is top end BMI range of treatment? A: >30 if they have lost weight. Not sure if it is weight or nutrition related

Q: Am of normal weight, but even when I put a few pounds on I notice huge difference in severity of symptoms

A: It’s the change in weight that’s important, not the weight itself

Q: if I am in high end of normal BMI – will getting on the lower end of normal help? A: No, it won’t help

Q: Blurred vision on Clomid, can I take FSH? A: Yes you can take FSH

Q: If I have IVF & live birth, w 2nd pregnancy is 1st line of treatment IVF? A: Worth trying Clomid again as things change

Q: vitamin D deficiency in PCOS? A: link between vit. D & insulin resistance.. Normal levels of vit. D can help PCOS women

Q: can I get vit. D test from GP? A: you could, but not sure if you should have regular tests. We need more research & info

Q: is there a min. BMI for treatment? A: European origin generally >19 for treatment, but can depend on ethnicity

In the UK, funding for fertility treatment is very very poor in comparison to other European countries

Suck sucks..SUCKS !

NICE recommended 3 cycles of IVF and it is not progressing across PCTs throughout the country

In the 5 yrs since NICE guidelines came out, services have improved and East of England is providing the best service

Uughh so … relocate to the east of England to give me the best change of winning the NHS postcode lottery. WHEN will our government realize that THIS is not good enough and actually DO something about it…

Impact of infertility is misunderstood… it doesn’t just affect two people, but their friends and family also.

Govt. considering national tariff to set standard cost on IVF and fertility treatment.

GOOD IDEA… watch this space.

http://www.fundingforfertility.com has template letters for you to send off to PCTs and MPs about your lack of funding.

People (infertility patients) need to make a fuss, as PCTs think that people don’t care when fertility funding gets cut.

Mmhumm people who can have kids don’t care … and people who can’t have kids don’t like to talk about it so much. So very sad.

Q: Why do they cut fertility funding? A: It’s an easy thing to cut, as people / public don’t make a fuss

What is the point of NICE guidelines if decision making is made on a local level with no enforcement as to how £ gets spent

Best place to live in London for IVF funded treatment? East London

Delegate got told that wouldn’t get fertility funding from Berkeshire PCT as they lost £90m in the bank crash.

Figures

Q: what are the IVF waiting lists like? A: Good, because we (UK) don’t fund very many, should happen within 18 weeks

Good news for all the wrong reasons.

Q: how much does IVF actually cost? Q: Between £3k and £5k … lower end from £2k plus drugs (= £3k)

Actually this is LESS than I thought.

There is still a stigma attached to infertility, and that our body is letting us down… feel angry, ashamed & frustrated.

Whoo… check, check and check… I certainly feel all of those things on a regular basis.

We don’t realize how many babies there are until you can’t have one yourself & it feels like our life is on hold waiting.

“I felt like everyone else that couldn’t have a baby was dealing with it fine except me”

– Then you should read more blogs you are not alone my friend… not at all.

Infertile couples often find themselves feeling jealous of people / friends / family with babies

There is no doubt that TTC and baby making sex puts a huge strain on relationships

Support (especially peer support) is not as common and forthcoming for men going through infertility

Yeah you know I think the guys have a rough time of it 😦 infertility hurts everyone involved

If you are going through treatment, it’s important to talk to your partner about whether you both attend appointments, etc.

More and more women are turning to complementary therapy, but not as many do and they can be as beneficial

Tell your employer you were undergoing fertility treatment? 1/3 of people don’t as they fear being treated differently

Do you tell friends & family? Consider telling them you are doing it, but don’t tell them *when* you are doing it

Counseling can make a *big* difference in how you cope with fertility treatment – see a fertility friendly counselor

Keep stress down as much as you can… TTC is *very* stressful, but help to lessen that as much as you can (comp. therapy)

Learn as much as you can about treatment, it helps you feel empowered. Main difference is getting support & help

OK, so that’s the lot. I actually learned a few things which is always good for my own part. Mother nature decided to celebrate the fertility event by sending AF to visit me late last night just in time making my last cycle 85 days long. This sucks because until now I had been doing so well – hitting regular cycles of around 32 days. It also sucks because unlike AF’s previous two visits that have been totally pain and stress free, this time things are definitely starting to get a lot more painful and uncomfortable again. Just when I thought I was making a little progress… *sighs* I wish I understood my body better.

Ali xX

Can I have a word….. In memory of Michael Jackson (1958-2009).

So listen…  I’m not going to write a huge spiel here going into all the intricacies of my opinions about this colorful character of a man but I felt something should be said so here goes.

First it should be noted that I am not really a Michael Jackson fan. I know his music because really who doesn’t. I own one of his albums in fact. Thriller was the first CD I ever bought at age 11 but I wouldn’t call myself a fan and I’m certainly not a fanatic supporter.

That being said, the King of pop / MJ / Jacko was a global icon and his passing sort of marks the end of an era. There’s this odd feeling when a person of such significance is sadly and suddenly no longer around. As a woman who was living in Britain at the time of Princess Diana’s death, I can’t say this is the first time I’ve experienced the departure of someone so built into the fabric of society that somehow you just assumed they would be around forever. No, I am not comparing them in any way other than the facts that both were widely known and influenced so many. The ripples they create even in death are wide spread; affect many people from all different backgrounds. Everybody has their opinions and suddenly becomes keen to voice them. There’s this mixtures of anger, shock, disbelief and sadness.

Like I said everyone has their opinion and this is my blog, so here is mine. Michael Jackson was a legend – an amazing talent. His music is the soundtrack to the time he lived through, hit after hit after hit… and all of them have me singing along even when I don’t consider myself a fan or follower of his work.  When an artist has that many iconic hits, you don’t need to follow them because the songs get so much exposure you can’t NOT be aware of them, be it radio, TV, adverts, remixes and imitations. Some people’s talent just shines bright in the world and unashamedly seeps into your consciousness, demanding your acknowledgement. Michael Jackson is one such star and his music will live on as his legacy to the world.

When you draw attention to yourself through some great talent that you possess, you are at the mercy of the society you put yourself on stage in front of.   You amass success and influence. Unfortunately you seem to become somewhat public property. You can’t showcase just part of your life anymore. It’s all or nothing: in the public eye or out of it and when you’re in the spotlight you can bet that a good number of people are looking to shoot you down.

You and I both know the accusations leveled in Michael’s direction as well as we know those songs we’re tapping our feet along to. Pedophilia and the crimes of child molestation and abuse are abhorrent and those guilty of such things are evil in my mind. It’s as simple as that. No excuses, no mercy. However, in my opinion, wrongfully accusing an innocent person of the most disgusting of offences is just as inexcusable. I will not tar somebody with that child abuser label without being damn sure I know what I was talking about. I believe there are only two things in this world that justify openly labeling someone as a pedophile: one is criminal conviction in a court of law where the burden of proof is beyond all reasonable doubt,  and the second is personal experience of abuse and an abused loved one . MJ was never convicted and I certainly don’t know anyone of his accusers personally. Therefore, I will leave him to face judgment and punishment from God on this question for he is much better qualified than me to know the truth.

All I see when I look at the life of this icon is a person forced to grow out of childhood far too fast, reaching the top of their profession before they were mature enough to cope with such things and suffering immense and overwhelming insecurity, trying to recapture the worry free days of a childhood he never had. And that is so very tragic.  The amount of surgery that man put himself through in order to try and feel accepted and “beautiful” is tragic. Somebody who is that out of touch with reality is tragic. Somebody that insecure in the public eye for so long surrounded by supporters and enemies but without any actual help appears tragic to me. If anything is to be learned from the life and death of this tortured soul maybe the simplest lesson is this: here is definitive proof that money and fame do NOT simply buy you happiness and peace of mind.  That is something you must find and not acquire.

Can we please take a moment to stop arguing over the rights and wrongs of the choices he made in his life or the accusations leveled against him because at the end of the day, none of it matters? Now, a man has passed away. Have some respect for the dead.  If you can’t think of anything positive to say, now is the time for quiet. Give his family and friends the respect they deserve on the loss of a loved one and move on with your life .

For my part I will mourn the Michael Jackson that was in the beginning: the bright young star whose music was an inspiration and I will hope that the Michael Jackson he became – the insecure tormented controversial soul – finally is at peace in a better place.

I chose to remember the good and try to let go of the bad… because when somebody has died it seems like the right thing to do.

Rest In Peace Michael and may your family find a little compassion and comfort in the world at this time

Ali xX

Falling behind.

I’m falling behind with my posting. The trouble is I have like a billion things I want to write about but for some reason the posts are just not coming together. Kayak Man got some great news the other day: the confirmation of his degree classification finally came through in writing and it puts him a grade higher than he was originally told. YAAAY. A very happy KM over here. So looking forward to his graduation, which should be some time next month.

I’ve missed 2 appointments with my dentist now – the first one because I was throwing up and so had to rearrange, and yesterday I got to the office for my 9.30 appointment having only had 1 and half hours sleep.  An hour later and I’m still waiting. You know something is wrong when you go to the reception desk and the nurse says “ohhh didn’t anyone come to talk to you?”  Ummm… no. Turns out my dentist’s previous patient had some type of medical emergency and passed out. Even though the patient was fine (phew), the dentist was now stuck filling out a mountain of paperwork that is required after such things and so I was given a new appointment 3 weeks from now!!

I’m spending a lot of time lost in my midwifery textbook. It’s fascinating but a slow read. So much information in those pages. I’m getting to the point now where I am feeling the need to acquire a dictionary of midwifery just so I can decipher some of these technical words. Sooo many long and complicated words to get my head around. Even though I’m getting used to seeing them written, I still have very little clue how you actually pronounce these things… but learning is so much fun! Still in the area of my midwifery aspirations I have finally finished my paperwork for volunteering at my local hospital and I have the interview tomorrow morning. Fingers crossed all goes well because I really need to get some actual experience before submitting my application. I have a lot of things lined up so I feel ok about it, but I would feel a whole lot better with some hours under my belt, that’s for sure. I’m getting a little nervous because without this stuff coming together I’ll be wasting a whole lot of money and time. Sometimes I’m so nervous about the whole thing it makes me feel sick. That’s what happens to me when I want something really bad but for some unknown reason my head has a hard time believing I’m worth it.  In fact, I had a major wobble about this a week or so ago. I just hate the idea of wasting other people’s time. Fortunately Gadget Guy was on hand to tell me how stupid I was being. Actually he’s a little smarter than that because somehow he never actually says I’m being stooped; he just talks me through stuff till I’m telling myself off for being stooped. It’s a pretty cool skill and I think it has something to do with all that life experience he has … not that I’m calling him old. He reads this ya know. (Edit:… hi… Gadget Guy here… you have NO IDEA HOW MUCH I have to read what Ali writes 😛 )

Ooo one final thing: Thanks y’all for the ideas and advice on my previous post. Some really cool ideas there.  I’m sure I’ll figure it out eventually. Right now eloping sounds fantastic but I think I’m just craving a holiday. It’s probably all the baseball I’ve been watching this week. I live too far from sunshine and ballparks lol

Now kick my ass so that I write some of those posts… Soon !

Ali xX

Who’s the Dad..

Yesterday was Father’s Day – a day which I like to avoid much more than Mother’s Day, which for an infertile is saying a lot. I don’t want to use this post to moan about the situation my dad’s in or what has happened to me in the past because, well, even though I’m still trying to get over it it’s probably better if I don’t dwell there.

I don’t specifically miss having my father in my life for many reasons, but I do miss having a dad – a supportive, guiding one that could make me see sense and give me a hug when things go wrong in that way only dads can. It sucks that my dad will never be proud of his daughter and it really blows that if I became a parent I’d be doing my damnedest to make sure my kids had a childhood so far removed from mine, without really having an example to follow.

Most of all, the dad void SUCKS. When it comes to that “W” word I’m afraid to say, you see, there’s this very specific role for a father on that one special occasion in a girl’s life and when he is missing or absent it causes all kinds of turmoil trying to decide how to fill that gap. My mother insists it should be my grand father as he is “head of the family”. Hmm not sure I really ever understood this head of the family thing anyways… unless your referring to the mafia type family in which case he’s the guy with all the respect  money and hired guns that everybody is scared shitless around right? Now I love my grandfather but he does not fit this head of the family type in my eyes and we’re not really super close. I’d even go so far as to say I might be more scared shitless of the “W” event than I ever would be of this vegetable-growing science-loving one time hill walking man from Scotland (see… that he grows things .. REALLY understands science and walks up hills for FUN… are you getting how not alike we are?). To be perfectly honest I don’t think he’s ever seen me nervous before and I’m pretty sure I might scare him if anything.

My brother is the next suggestion. Well sure, except for some reason the fact that he’s younger than me makes me feel odd about it and we spent most of our childhood apart so even though I’m closest to him in all my family… still not what you would call tight.

My Dad’s brother … well if it’s not my Dad, this makes some kind of sense and really my uncle an his family are super cool and I’d like to be more in touch with them.

*sighs*

You see my dilemma… and the truth is if I’m really honest with myself there are two people in this world I would love to ask … neither of them are listed above and neither of them are EVEN related to me but they have been there for me for years each of them in their own way at different times of my life they have guided, helped, hugged and even chastised me when I should have/could have done better. Both these men have seem me at my worst and still stood by me and in my heart I want them there… because I care for them and I think they have earned this so called honor. Oh and because they have a shot at keeping me from thinking about how mad I am that my dad ain’t there and freaking out.  I just know that doing that will raise a bunch of eyebrows, confuse and possibly upset the family … and and…

uugh the whole situation has hassle written all over it… and this is why I have such trouble with the “W” word.

Maybe my mother is right and there’s no point in even doing the getting hitched thing seen as we can’t have kids together anyways. But that’s a whole other story…

Happy Fathers Day … I say this not to fathers but to all of the Dad’s – the ones who really care and bust it for their kids. The ones who live in hope because their kids haven’t arrived yet… and finally the two guys who have sort of stepped in and occupied the dad void for me.  You all ROCK !

Yeah it’s a day late. So shoot me 😛

Ali xX