Saturday, October 18, 2008

In Praise of the Follistim Pen

I have done a lot of medicated cycles. My poor ovaries have been both gently encouraged and whipped into a frenzy by most of the various options available. Depending on the protocol (and which pharmaceutical companies were offering buy-two-get-one-free specials), I have used Gonal-F, Bravelle, Menopur and Follistim. And I can tell you, the fact that none of them actually worked has no bearing on which ones I actually hate to use.

I think the Gonal-F is the worst in terms of the actual injection. The mechanism is just not as smooth, which obviously has nothing to do with how well the medication works - but it was usually painful and almost always left a horrible bruise. The Bravelle and Menopur - which I used in combination - had a nifty mixing-top which allows all the doses to be mixed together into one injection. The mixing was somewhat time-consuming, but it was great for traveling since the vials don't have to stay refrigerated. I did get some hefty bruises, though, no matter how careful I was.

The Follistim pen is hands-down my favorite. The needle is teensy - I usually can't even feel it - and the ratcheting mechanism is smooth and easy to control. There is almost never anything more than a microscopic red dot left - I haven't had a bruise yet. Since I am doing up to three injections a day, it really makes a difference. Lots of bruising means that there isn't much area available for the various needles, and since the bruises can last weeks it's easy to run out of navel-adjacent flab. The thigh is always a little more sensitive for me, so I try to avoid it unless I have no choice.

Anyway, that's my pitch for Follistim. "Because infertility is painful enough already." (It's also nice that there is always extra left over, so if you really want to economize you can usually add the dregs together and come up with another dose.)

Other than that, I have no news. US on Monday to see whether or not anything actually managed to grow yet. My last IVF had a paltry few follicles, so I'm just hoping to have enough that I won't be canceled. I have to have nine in a similar range as a requirement of the three-for-two package, so that's really all I'm hoping for. But honestly, if I have only six but they all look great, I'll be happy. I have definitely entered the bargaining-for-ridiculous-things phase of the cycle.


Meanwhile, my daughter and I have started to look at other schools. Her teachers are fabulous, and I know that the librarian and her former third-grade teacher are also really looking out for her. But I need to trust that the place I choose for my child to spend so much of her early life will truly have her best interests at heart, and I don't feel that way now. Nothing will really make up for her feeling of being excluded, and I had so hoped that she wouldn't learn to think of herself as an outsider, define herself as separate and feel that there were reasons that she was not included in the group of kids she identified with. She fairly easily lapses into that definition of herself anyway, so trying not to reinforce that was one of the big goals, supposedly.

In any case, I have realized that part of my bargaining-for-ridiculous-things phase includes this crazy notion of accepting another failed cycle if only the child I already do have can be happy. If only things would work out well for her, if only I could know that, in the long run, I was making the best decisions for her, I would happily give up on the idea of another baby. And I'm grateful for that feeling, for knowing that my emotions haven't been completely hijacked by desperation. Of course, I would love to have it all, but in terms of ridiculous bargaining, it's nice to have options.


Claudia said...

The Follistim pen was my fave too. Well designed.

Good luck tomorrow!

Lost in Space said...

I have only used Menopur and gonal-f. My RE let me mix them in the Menopur vial before injecting, but I can see how the gonal-f pen clicking could be a pain while injecting. None of them bruised me quite like Lupron though. (:

Good luck with your u/s tomorrow and with the search for your daughter's new school. So much going on. Hang in there!! Hugs.

Shelby said...

I don't mind pain, as long as others are delivering it to me, so as you can imagine, I'm terrified that I'll have to be delivering some of my own shots when I head off into IVF land. Yikes!

As far as your daughter, I'm so sorry that it's so rough for her. I'm sure whatever decision your family makes will be best.

Midlife Mommy said...

I never used the pen, but I always used Follistem. I think it came out after I stopped trying with my own eggs.

I'm glad that you are looking for another school. That sounds like the best possible alternative at this point. I try to believe that we don't have to choose between blessings, and I hope that you can have both.

Midlife Mommy said...

Oops. Sorry. It's been so long that I can't even remember how to spell Follistim, I guess. We conceived my daughter in December 2003, and my IVF with my own eggs was before that.