Breast cancer lesson number 36: What really happens behind the doors of the ACU

A trip to the Assisted Conception Unit (or ACU) is like a game of musical chairs. One waiting room and three consulting rooms later, and you come out with a bit less blood, a lot less dignity, a bit more information, and a lot more reassurance that you are one step closer to making embryos.

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This morning, everyone wanted me – or my left arm that is. First, the nurse on blood-taking duty thought she might have a go. Thankfully a bit of gentle persuasion was all it took to encourage her that I might be best left for the anaethetist. Next, tucked away in the ‘procedures’ part of the unit waiting for said anaethetist, a second nurse (who was worried about keeping me waiting) said she’d like to have a go after having spied a juicy vein. Smiling as I dutifully extended my arm, it took two failed attempts before she admitted defeat and left me nursing a cup of tea and a biscuit.

It wasn’t long before my knight in soft blue scrubs arrived with a large syringe and an appetite for my left wrist. Eighteenth ‘sharp scratch’ of the week, and we’re there. I am proud to admit that I have still not cried in a blood test, even though my arm is starting to look like I’ve gone a few rounds in the boxing ring.

I never thought I’d say this, but the internal scan part was the easy – if not so dignified – bit (think probe, think jelly and that’s all you’re getting). After having injected myself with a combination of Cetrotide and Menopur for the last few days (balanced with a few Letrozole pills), the scan was to determine the size of my follicles and how well I am responding to the treatment. The good news is, that while my veins might be retreating under the stress of all this poking, by body is still playing ball. The follicles are growing well and, if my blood test results agree, I will be heading back for IV sedation on Monday (no doubt, at the same time I am supposed to be in oncology discussing toxic drugs and having a further blood test).

So what happens next? I wait for a call. If the call keeps me on track, I continue with my injections until Saturday, when I get to mix things up by introducing a ‘trigger’ injection called Ovitrelle and stopping the Cetrotide and Menopur. Ovitrelle is designed to stimulate the final maturation of the eggs. All being well, they will knock me out on Monday, extract what they need and then get to work in the laboratory. There is a suppository in the mix here, but the less said about that the better!

I must confess, it’s not the most romantic way of making babies. But, in what feels like a continuous race against time at the moment, it’s the best chance we have of being able to change nappies, clean up sick and join the banks of people having sleepless nights all over the Capital.

The stakes are high, but let’s just hope the chemo is kind, so we’ll never have to use our little embryos.

2 comments

  1. Gotta love the internal ultrasound lol my husband left the room for that one! Your right not the most romantic way to have a child but ours will know how much we desperately wanted them. My one positive is my husband’s head is HUGE!!” Glad I won’t b pushing out his kid lol I tell him when we find a surrogate we need to some how hide the size of his head because off the bat it will be a no. Good luck Monday fingers crossed you have lots of follicles to extract! Xo

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