Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Part II - From Childfree to Childless

Guest Post by Jennifer Forlin. If you missed Part I of Jennifer's story you can read it here
Photo by Rodion Kutsaev
Continued from last week ...

I think those last few minutes before I checked my results was the last time I was really happy.

The next three months were hard without having my husband around. The days were OK when I worked, however the evenings weren’t so great. By that time I’d had a grey-stripey kittycat named Steve for three months, and his antics were some salve. Friends of my step-sister tried to draw me out and were unsuccessful. I’d even been voted to the Board of Directors for the Chamber of Commerce and that fell away too.
There were other fertility tests that I needed to take, further exploration. The 'why' of it all. So I left my job with the super rad owner, kick ass staff, and moved back down to the City, leaving small town Utopia behind. (One of my staff told me Steve had found a great new home. Phew.)

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The most invasive tests I’d ever had in my life were on the menu that spring and summer: an internal, (and what I mean, is vaginal), ultrasound; an internal x-ray, complete with dye gently infused into my vagina and uterus that unnervingly seeped out for the rest of the day, and a couple of other tests that were a blur. The ultrasound was a big dildo. A BIG dildo. That was the one test my husband was there for. Yikes.The technician asked me if I wanted to insert it myself. Wrong place. Wrong time. Wrong. She said that normally she can see some ‘pre’-eggs up there. But she didn’t see any. I don’t even have any f**king eggs?! This was going from bad to worse.

Back at the fertility Doctor’s office I was asked if I wanted to do genetic testing to gain a greater understanding of why I had POF. I said yes. In hindsight it was the segue of closing the door of ‘normal’ fertility. The receptionist wanted to know could she put me on the list to receive egg donor information? “Sure.” Looking back I don’t even remember discussing that, nor IVF. It was info overload. Emotion overload.

December 9, 2013, six weeks after starting a new job. I met with a three person team headed by a Doctor of genetics. Some assessments, the usual height-weight-blood pressure sequence. Arm span to height ratio normal. A few other tests. The most serene of landscapes met my eyes as I sat on the bed and gazed outside through barred windows-a dusting of virginal snow, a muted light. Tall tips of Douglas firs swaying in Mother Nature’s embrace. 

We sat down at a round table and the geneticist showed me a scan of 23 sets of chromosomes. She explained, (greatly abridged here), that out of the two X chromosomes contributing to my gender, the ‘arms’ of one of them was greatly reduced and the genetic information at the ends of the X had been lost.Turner’s Syndrome, and I’m ‘mosaic’(a mix of the markers for this chromosomal condition), carrying some of the traits. Some women, (and it only affects women), with TS have one X chromosome missing completely, and with that a whole host of additional physical signs and symptoms.

“...in the majority of cases, the etiology of POF is never known.” “...although Jennifer has a proportion of cells (6%) that are 45,X, all (italics theirs) women show a progressive loss of the X chromosome with, and her levels are within normal limits. As she has POF, however, this may indicate that she is indeed mosaic for 45,X in other (italics theirs) tissues…” 

I declined further testing. It would have utterly shattered me to know if I’d been able to conceive earlier in my life, and missed that window of opportunity.

TS can be tested for in utero, (I researched North America only). I missed being diagnosed in childhood because I was so athletic and didn’t display the classic signs of TS. However, blushes of anomalies became known as I got older-slight scoliosis,(an S-shaped curvature of the spine), hearing degradation in my 20s and certainly the infertility diagnosis at age 39.

I’m 43 years old now. This July I moved back to Ontario, solo, to be with my family. I just needed some support, dammit. I have a counselor on deck. I saw the audiologist three weeks ago. Some heart checkups have to be booked, renal (kidney) stuff too. I’m getting ‘food and mood’ treatment from a Naturopathic Doctor, who discovered imbalances in my gut and with amino acids; chronic internal inflammation, dehydration, and potential food sensitivities as well. My sugars are out of whack.
The ND said the way my results are, “...this is when people kill themselves.” She knows I wanted to, twice, and asks me how I made it through. Knowing God’s promises for me. And saying them over and over again. Her findings are of great relief-for years I’ve known that my insides weren’t happy, and that my emotions often spiraled out of control-highs and lows.

My energetic, fun and super supportive Mom and I are going to a Turner’s Syndrome conference in 2016. Road trip!  I look forward to meeting and supporting all those beautiful little girls and hearing the stories of the older ones.

I know there’s a larger part to my life than what is happening now. I have the faith to see it through. And the girlfriends! Happy fragments are out there, and I see them, all around, and gather them up, hold them close to my heart. I’m thrilled to see my siblings and my nieces pretty much every weekend after 23 years of living in ‘another world’.

Thank you, Peachy Keen Mumma, for allowing me to share my experience. The healing has begun, and I am forever grateful. For more information on Turner’s Syndrome please visit www.turnersyndrome.ca

*PKM is Linking up with Essentially Jess for I Blog on Tuesdays

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