About that OHSS…

As I wrote  in my last post, even though everything went really well with the IVF cycle, I ended up with OHSS so we were not able to do a transfer. When my estradiol levels got very high near the end of the stims, my Dr. had warned me that I was at risk. So, we took all the necessary precautions: coasted (no medication) for two days, triggered ovulation with only 5,000 units of hcg instead of the usual 10,000, and got me some medicine (dostinex) to take every evening in the hopes of keeping the OHSS at bay.

My stomach felt quite full and bloated after  the retrieval, and on the Thursday after retrieval (2 days later) I remember finding the smell of food quite offensive (and it was pizza, which I love!), and I didn’t have much appetite for dinner. However, when I woke up on Friday I felt much better. By Friday afternoon though, I was feeling worse than before. I ate a banana at lunch time (the only thing I ate for lunch), and by the time I finished it, I felt like if I ate another drop of anything I would throw up. Again, the smell of food really grossed me out. I wondered if this was what morning sickness and sensitivity to smell feels like when you’re pregnant?

I ended up leaving work early because I was just sitting there staring at my computer willing time to tick by, but unable to actually work due to feelng horribly bloated and somewhat nauseous. I went home for a nap, and then it was time for my husband and I to go sign the morgtgage documents for our new house. The bank was next to a fast food restaurant, and again I found the smell of food just wretched. I was popping some tylenols as we went in to see the banker, and she noticed and was sympathetic that I wasn’t feeling well, so things moved along fairly quickly. I wasn’t feeling any better when we left, and within five minutes of being in the car, I could feel my stomach clenching and I ended up throwing up all over myself as my husband couldn’t pull over in time. Can you say gross?

I called my clinic’s after hours line when I got home. Ever since being told I was at risk of OHSS last week, I’d read the handout several times, but I didn’t seem to have the typical symptoms that it described. The nurse asked me questions about whether I was short of breath (no), and whether my pulse was pounding in my head (no), which I knew were symptoms of OHSS. Even though the nausea and the food sensitivity were my only symptom, but the end of the conversation when she said to drink nothing but one litre of gatorade per day, to sleep sitting up, and to come in for an ultrasound the next day, I knew that I was likely dealing with OHSS.

Sure enough, the ultrasound (on my stomach – a first!) confirmed that I had fluid in my abdomen and that my left ovary was “massive”. Saturday was the worst day of it. Thankfully I didn’t throw up again, but it was very difficult to force myself to eat anything, and I felt very uncomfortable. My stomach was also masive and felt stretched to its limits. And, I was also starting to feel overwhelmed by all the medications I was taking, especially as some of them had to be taken with food, and I wasn’t able to eat much. Between the three times a day estrace pills and prometrium suppositories, the twice daily antibiotic (to be taken with food), the baby asprin, the dostinex, and the twice daily heparin injections, not to mention tylenol for pain, and pepto bismal and gravol for nausea, I felt like my entire day was spent medicating. I even cut out the vitamins and supplements I normally take (my Dr.  even suggested it, as they can upset your stomach), and also stopped taking the DHEA, but it was still overwhelming.

We went in on the Sunday for an ultrasound, and to make the decision on whether to transfer or not. On Saturday, our Dr. had already asked us when in July we’d be moving, so we knew that we may have to hold off transferring. I felt better on Sunday as my appetite was coming back, but I still felt rough enough that I was hoping our Dr. would say we should hold off on the transfer. And strange as it sounds, when it occurred to me that morning that not transfering would mean I could stop taking all the medication, it seemed like a dream. While I’m sure lots of people would do whatever they can to transfer (even if they weren’t feeling 100%), for me the promise of no more medication was much more appealing than plowing ahead.

Due to the possibiity that we wouldn’t be transferring, I didn’t have to drink the usual 4 glasses of water prior to our appointment; I got away with 2. Sure enough, while I was a bit better than Saturday, the ultrasound showed that I still had fluid in my abdomen, so the Dr. recommended we postpone the transfer. “Can I stop the meds then?” I asked hopefully. “Yes. Just keep taking the baby aspirin, but you can stop everything else.”

Over the next few days, I slowly felt better. I had to go for bloodwork a few times, and had a few more ultrasounds, but everything showed that I was getting better. On the Tuesday (one week after retrieval), I did have some tightness in my chest, but it wasn’t too bad And then on Wednesday, I woke up with crazy hearburn (I’d never in my life had heartburn before). It was a constant burning feeling radiating out from my breastbone, and I couldn’t concentrate on anything but the pain. I went into the fertility clinic that morning to get checked out, and everything else looked good, so I got a prescription for something to helpt the heartburn, and was told to stop drinking the gatorade and taking baby aspirin which would aggravate it. Thankfully the medication fully kicked in by the afternoon.

On Thursday, I felt better, though I still had some tenderness in my pelvic area, and on Friday I think I could finally say I was 100% – no more big belly or anything! Okay, I was still up the 6 pounds I’d gained over the course of the IVF cycle, but at least I no longer looked pregnant. And then this past Sunday I started spotting, which meant my period was on its way and it was time to jump back in and get going on the frozen embryo transfer!

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3 thoughts on “About that OHSS…

  1. Man. That sounds really, really awful. I’m so glad you’re on the other side of it now. Now when you do your FET your body will be all healthy and happy : )

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