I’ve neglected this page for a while. As I talked about with my last blog post, I wanted to tell y’all a little bit about my experience with OHSS (Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome.)
For those that aren’t familiar with the process of IVF, one of the first steps is doing an egg retrieval. To prepare for this, most women are given large doses of hormones, both injections and pills, in order to hyperstimulate their ovaries to produce a large number of eggs. These eggs are then retrieved at the perfect time (you’re monitored like crazy through sonograms and blood work at your IVF office) under anesthesia at a surgery center, IVF office, or hospital.
So, the month of October was finally the month that I was able to start the medications in preparation for the egg retrieval. You have to start the medications weeks ahead of time in order to prepare for the retrieval. I was so excited to finally be doing something in the process of our IVF journey. I felt like we would be that much closer to maybe having a baby. I knew that because of my PCOS risk I was at a higher likelihood to develop OHSS after the retrieval, but I didn’t care. I would (and still will) literally do anything to get pregnant and maintain that pregnancy with the hopes of a beautiful child.
Thursday October 27th, 2016 was the big day! We went in that morning for our egg retrieval. The nurse, who happened to work with me previously, was my pre-op nurse and started my IV. Dr. Barnett, my REI doctor, came in and asked if I had any questions and then my anesthesiologist came in and explained the type of anesthesia he would use. He then gave me some Versed and wheeled me into the OR. That Versed works amazing because I barely remember being wheeled into the OR. The whole egg retrieval process was completely painless. They watched me in the recovery area for a little bit and made sure the anesthesia wore off, gave me some snacks, took out my IV and sent me on my way with post-op instructions. I was told to take it easy and relax that day so I went home and spent the day in bed. They gave my a prescription for Tylenol #3 in case I needed it (and boy I sure did end up needing it.)
Above is a picture of me right before being wheeled into the OR for my egg retrieval. I was so excited for the next step in our IVF journey!
Friday October 28th, 2016 wasn’t too bad. I was a little sore, but nothing too unmanageable. Again, I was told to take it easy, so I too off work that day as well. I tried to drink plenty of fluids to prevent OHSS. I spent the day watching television and trying to relax. I was thinking that I might have escaped the infamous OHSS.
Saturday October 29th, I felt sore but felt even better than the day before. I decided, very unwisely, that I needed to get some yard work done. I went to Home Depot and bought a ton of pansies. We were going to be hosting Thanksgiving and I really wanted my yard to look nice. I spent half the day doing yard work and cleaning up my flower beds. That was not my best idea.
Sunday October 30th was the day of my niece’s THIRD birthday party! There was no way I was going to miss that. By this time, I was definitely sore and hurting. I was so bloated that I looked about four months pregnant. I was having to take the Tylenol #3 and it wasn’t controlling my pain as much as I had hoped. But, we went to her party and then to the after-party at my brother and sister-in-law’s house with all the family. Right before dinner, I started to feel really, really bad. The worst I’d felt thus far. I took some more Tylenol #3 and tried to make it through dinner. I had about three bites of food and couldn’t do it anymore. I said our goodbyes quickly and as soon as I made it to the car, I began to vomit. I wasn’t sure if it was from the pain or the food, but it was definitely miserable. I was glad we had left just in time, however.
By the time Monday, Halloween, rolled around, I felt downright awful. I was scheduled to return to work the next day, so I tried my best to stay in bed, do nothing, and drink lots of fluids. This, however, didn’t help. I knew that feeling this way was probably normal, so I didn’t call the doctor or worry too much. I was hoping that the pain and bloatednesss would wear off by the time I had to return to work the next day.
Tuesday November 1st, I somehow managed to get myself out of bed, shower, and go to work. I’m not sure how I even made it through my shower. I was in so much pain. I had gained at least ten pounds by this point. My stomach was so bloated that by this time I definitely looked pregnant. I had absolutely no appetite and definitely no energy. But, I didn’t have much PTO and knew I needed to try and make it through the work day. I was scheduled to work the next three days and I had already been off work for five days by this point. I made it to work and luckily had the best assignment that I could’ve been given. I was set to train a coworker how to be a charge nurse. This allowed me to stay seated and not have to walk as much, which was definitely helpful. I called the doctor to ask and make sure all my symptoms were normal, and they said that they were. But, by the time noon rolled around there was just no way that I could make it the rest of the day. I wasn’t even halfway done with my shift. I left after lunch that day and felt like I would barely make the drive home. I got home and went straight to bed. I ended up starting an IV on myself hoping that it would help with my symptoms (Don’t worry, the IV supplies were not obtained illegally from my job) but it didn’t seem to help at all.
Above is a picture of the IV that I started on myself. It’s not my best work, but it functioned as needed. Believe it or not, an IV is difficult to do one-handed.
Wednesday, November 2nd was a blur. I called in sick to work that day. By this time, I literally had ZERO PTO so I would be taking sick time without pay. But, I had no choice. I literally couldn’t move from my bed. I slept on and off all day and did not get out of bed except to go to the bathroom and get water. I really thought that I would be better by the next day because that would’ve been a week exactly after my egg retrieval.
My sweet Goldendoodle, Max, kept me company while I was stuck in bed.
Again, I was scheduled to work on Thursday, November 3rd, but was unable to go in. By this time, not only was I in a ton of pain, bloated, sore, and had no energy, but it was becoming hard for me to breathe. I couldn’t take a large breath and I had begun coughing. I was afraid that I was getting fluid overloaded and that my body was third spacing my fluid. I called my doctor again with my concerns. (They probably thought I was nuts and so annoying!) But, they went ahead and told me to come in. I saw the doctor, he took one look at my stomach, diagnosed me with OHSS, and sent me to the surgery center to get an IV with fluids and some pain meds. Luckily, my OHSS wasn’t so severe that I needed the fluid to be drained off of my stomach. I was in the surgery center for about two hours and then was released home.
Above is not a flattering picture of me, but I look about as bad as how I felt. This was in the surgery center while they were giving me fluids and pain meds.
Friday, November 4th I was finally beginning to feel like myself. At this point, it had been eight days since my egg retrieval. I didn’t feel as tired or bloated and my appetite was beginning to come back. My mom and I went and grabbed a quick lunch and walked around Target for a few minutes. It was the most activity I’d had in over a week, but it felt so good to get out and try to accustom myself to more activity.
The weekend rolled around and I could definitely tell that my bloating was going down and my pain was much more controllable. I had more energy to do things, although a lot less than normal. I was able to enjoy the weekend and returned to work that Monday.
Throughout all of this, my husband was a saint. He would bring me Gatorade and water in bed, make sure I had enough fluids and was eating, and make sure I was getting enough rest. I don’t know how I would’ve made it without him. My mom was also an angel. She brought me lunch one of the days that I was stuck in bed, constantly checked on me, and then took me out to lunch and Target on the day that I was starting to feel better. I’m so so thankful for them.
I returned to work Monday feeling like myself again. I would do the egg retrieval over and over in a heartbeat if that meant having a baby. While the experience of OHSS wasn’t enjoyable, it will hopefully be so worth it if the end result is a pregnancy. Not everyone gets OHSS from their egg retrieval, so if you’re reading this and going to be having a retrieval soon, don’t worry! Many people have their retrieval and are able to return to normal activity a day or two later!