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13 weeks later

That’s right. I’m still working out twice a week and progress is being made. In spite of my birthday, my wife’s birthday and Easter all working against me to satisfy my sweet tooth, (which I would call a controlled failure), I’m still here fighting the good fight.

Looking in the mirror I can see my face shrinking. I’m looking more like the person I think I am and not the fat guy I actually was. My shirts are no longer tight around my belly and instead are tight in the sleeves. My arms aren’t slabs of flab anymore and are hard as rocks. I can’t stop touching and squeezing them. OMG I have a man crush on my own arms.

My man boobs are disappearing and being replaced with actual muscles. My legs are solid and my flexibility and balance are coming back to me. Allowing me to practice my Tae Kwon Do kicks. I’m teaching my workout partner these kicks and we are having a blast kicking the crap out of his “Wave Master” bag.

Best of all, I’m now on the first belt hole. In 13 weeks I’ve gone from hole 5 to hole 1. Soon I’ll be able to fit into my size 36 pants that I’ve been keeping for 4 years in the hopes of fitting into them again. My mid section has shrunk from a full sized spare tire to a hatchback donut spare tire.  (Mmmmmm donuts!)

I still have a lot of work ahead of me, but I’ve made good progress so far. I need to rid my life of the liars that make me feel bad about myself, and the biggest liar in my life right now is that damn bathroom scale! It’s saying I’m still 230 pounds. I guess when the fat is gone and the scale is still saying 230 I’ll just have to accept it.

Lucky for me there aren’t any special events in the near future to temp me. My goal is to gain control of my late night hunger and hopefully the scale will start being nicer to me.

Oh look, they put another cake in the cube next to me.

Damn it!

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Balls!

Alright I’ll admit it. There is more to my new found drive to lose weight than simply wanting to be healthy and feel better about myself. I keep reading over and over about a possible link between obesity and male infertility. While I don’t buy for one second my weight is the root cause for my infertility…it may well be a secondary factor in making my condition much worse than it needs to be.

The whole purpose of the testicles residing in the scrotum is to regulate their temperature for optimum production.  I look at my situation below and my balls are basically incubating between too large thighs all day long.  A perfect condition for roasting nuts, and not at all an ideal situation for sperm production.

There is also that small varicocele my Urologist found. All these questions on what to do next. Do I go ahead with a surgery with another uncertain outcome? Shall I walk around with ice packs shoved down the front of my pants all day long? Should I invest in Snowballs, underwear designed to keep the family jewels cool? Or do I commit myself to losing the weight?

With the bank account begging for mercy, I weighed my options. Although surgery could see an improvement, and insurance would cover part of the costs, that’s another $1000 or more out of my pocket.  A debt I’d be happy to take on if there was a good chance of the surgery leading to an improved sperm count.  Even if the improvement was only enough raise my chances for the next IVF round to work, surgery would be worth it. Right now with too many unknowns, this is another shot in the dark just like those HCG injections that work for some men, but not for me. So I’m holding off on the surgery.

Forcibly cooling the area with ice packs or specially designed underwear sounds promising on the surface. But this is just another one of those crazy infertile ideas like when I tried using a depilatory cream on the sack under the same reasoning. That crazy idea lead to several days of agony. Ice packs in the pants will definitely be uncomfortable and would need to be worn continuously for 3 months before finding out if this treatment is even working. I’m not walking around with my junk on ice for another long shot.

That left me with weight loss. It’s something I need to do and the hope of increasing my fertility is certainly additional motivation to keep me focused. I already had the weight set just sitting in the spare room, so there is little in additional cost required. I’ve found a work out buddy who is at the same level of strength as myself. This option just seemed to fall into place.

For me, the biggest reason I’m going with weight loss is that if in the end my fertility doesn’t increase, I’ll still feel good about accomplishing something. I can put my energy into a task where the results will be good, or could be great. Right now I need this, because few paths on the infertility journey have a lesser outcome that is still a benefit. I need a vacation from the heartbreak or euphoria result set.  And if weight loss does result in some form of an increased sperm count, I’ll feel much better about going under the knife to improve my fertility further.

I’m 3 weeks into my weight loss plan. Although the flaky home scale says I either lost 2 more pounds or stayed the same this week depending on its mood, I’m down another belt notch and see a big difference all over my body that my plan is in fact working. I’m also feeling a lot better and seeing a noticeable increase in my energy level.

Finally a journey that only looks up. The only question that remains is, how high?

© copyright 2011-2013

Please cut my arms off!

Last week began the start of my new weightlifting routine. Having lifted weights in high school I’m not a novice, however I probably would have been better off if I were.

I remembered much of what I learned in my class years ago. Starting with weights that weren’t too heavy. Focusing on my form and breathing during the exercise routines. Surprised myself by finding that my abs are still in good shape. Worked my right and left obliques, crunches and crunch leg raise combos, all together about 120 reps total and still wasn’t pushing very hard to avoid injury. (A gift from my gymnastics and tae kwon do instructors, the evil bastards.) Anyway, if I can eliminate this spare tire I know there is a nice set of abs underneath just waiting to be shown off.

The next day I felt pretty good. A little sore as I expected, but nothing too uncomfortable and the slight soreness reminded me the muscles were busy repairing themselves. I could feel my body burning energy instead of storing it as fat.

When I woke up the 2nd morning, that’s when the DOMS hit. What are DOMS? It stands for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. OW! No, that’s not good enough…

OWWWWWWW!

I couldn’t hold my arms straight. Reaching for a coffee cup was near impossible. I had no choice but to walk around for two days holding my arms at an angle like a gorilla. It was painful driving to work, putting on my shoes…anything that required extending my arm was torture!

I searched for the heating pad only to find and remember Bandit had chewed the cord as a puppy. Finally I found an almost empty tube of IcyHot that brought some relief. Coupled with ibuprofen I was finally able to go to sleep that night.

I don’t recall going through this much pain when I started lifting weights in high school. Maybe the instructor had started us on a lower weight than I remembered to avoid this situation. Luckily I’m reading that once you’ve broken the muscle in again, the likelihood of dealing with DOMS after future workouts is far less.

Now I’m feeling pretty good. Surprisingly I’m excited about exercising and for once I don’t dread doing it. Having a workout partner is a big help.

So far I’ve lost 3.5 pounds between diet and exercise. I’m not expecting those results every week, but I am encouraged by it. More exciting is I’m down a belt loop and I’m no longer teetering on the brink of requiring a bigger belt.

Thanks everyone for the encouragement. I’ve got a long road ahead of me, but I’m confident I can get where I’d like to be.

Healthy.

© copyright 2011-2013

Hiding in Plain Site.

I’m still amazed by how many of us there are struggling with infertility. I have a friend at work I’ve known for several years. He’s married with no children, and both he and his wife are some of the nicest folks you’ll ever be lucky to meet.

Most probably think this couple have chosen not to have kids. I remember being one of them years ago. Since finding out about my own fertility problems, I have wondered if maybe he and his wife being childless might be more than simply a lifestyle choice. But how to bring up the topic in conversation?

“Dude, you shooting blanks too?” Seems a little too brash.

“Wife have a bum oven?” That won’t work. My nuts may be worthless, but they can still cause me pain when struck with a foot.

I didn’t want to bring up the topic of children, knowing how much I regret it when someone forces that topic on me. So we end up only discussing safe topics. Video games, movies, sports, heck even politics and religion turned out to be safe topics compared to discussing fertility.

Today at lunch the topic of diet and exercise was brought up. Considering it’s the New Year and we both struggle with our weight, not a surprising January 2nd conversation.

“Our diet got thrown off track when we started fertility treatments.” I blurted out of the clear blue. The initial horror of what I had said hung in the air. I first noticed the room was in fact empty, thank goodness. But the elephant I just laid still made me hold my breath, waiting for a response.

Maybe he didn’t notice or would ignore what was just spoken and continue with the conversation we were having?

“Been there.”

Breathe, breathe, wait…what?

In an instant the connection was made. I knew what he had been suffering and he knew my own.

I wonder if my subconscious knew what it was doing blurting out those words. I sure hope that is the case, because I may have to become a hermit if I start shouting about infertility in a crowded restaurant. I may be open and honest on this blog and I certainly have told my closest friends and family about my situation. But as far as the general population is concerned, like all of you, I’m still hiding in plain site.

© copyright 2011-2013

The Chicken Noodle Soup Theorem

I apologize up front for the nature of this post. Those with a weak constitution may want to stop reading. I have come to a realization that may one day change the world. Probably not.  But who’s to say Pythagoras or John Nash knew what they had stumbled upon when documenting ideas about triangles or equilibriums. They probably weren’t even the first to realize the concepts they are credited with. They were, however, the first to record the idea. So here I am, recording my earth shattering epiphany for future generations to use in ways I couldn’t even imagine, to help shape the future of mankind. (If we survive past 12/21/12 of course.)

IVFmale’s Chicken Noodle Soup Theorem.
Chicken Noodle Soup with Ginger Ale causes really stinky farts.

How did I come to this ground breaking realization you may ask? Good question. For the past 2 days I’ve been sicker than a dog who was binge eating at an all-you-can-eat trash heap.

I woke up Tuesday morning feeling a little nauseous. After concluding I couldn’t be pregnant, since I’m infertile and a male, I knew something was wrong. I’ll take a stuffy runny nose and coughing my head off any day over nausea and vomiting. I sat up in bed holding my cramping belly as I broke out in a 5 alarm fever sweat all over my body.

Still I deluded myself into thinking I would be fine. “It’s just gas,” I tricked myself into believing as I sat down to the bowl of cereal the wife fixed for me. Two bites later, I had to stop. If I was going to maintain control over my bodily functions, eating more food was out of the question.

I sat at the table in meditation, trying to keep my stomach from rejecting the food it had just been offered. I informed the wife I would take the day off as a precaution, but reassured her it was probably nothing serious. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

While maintaining a calm composure, focusing on keeping my stomach soothed; I felt a pressure in my lower digestive system that made getting to the restroom an immediate priority. I now understand how someone could label the effect as “exploding”, because that’s what happened the moment I sat down.  If it hadn’t been for the extra weight I carry around with me, I probably would have achieved liftoff.

When the episode was over, I clean myself up and sprayed the room heavily with Lysol; while the wife directed me through the closed door were I could find the medication needed to fix my “problem.” Scanning the closet shelf I found the bottle holding the magic pills I prayed would bring me relief. I popped two pills in my mouth with a handful of water before remembering my lower digestive system wasn’t the only problem I was having that morning.

Too late! Burying my head in the toilet bowl, my stomach rejected the medication, along with what little I had eaten for breakfast, and much of what remained from the previous night’s dinner. In this position I found myself thankful. Thankful that I had already flushed the toilet before attempting to find the medication.

When I finally emerged from the bathroom after both the upper and lower parts of my digestive system had taken a couple of turns being ill, I was greeted with a caring pity look from the wife and an uncaring “I wan’t to play” look from the puppy. I sat on the couch feigning ignorance about my prior prediction about “being alright” and found myself thankful once again. We had cold bottles of regular Sprite in the refrigerator. Food was out of the question, but with both ends threatening to cause me dehydration, I needed something with calories that might calm my stomach.

Slowly I started sipping the soda knowing the likely result. Sure enough, I found myself bowing to the porcelain god once again. Only this time the lower end decided it wasn’t willing to take turns anymore. Leaving me to make some snap decisions on how to handle the situation. Seated on the bowl with my face directed towards the sink, I was mostly successful at avoiding a complete disaster. During a brief lull, I begged my saint of a wife to bring me the large soup pot, the Clorox cleaning wipes, and a change of clothes.

Now armed with a defensive strategy to handle both issues at once, I somehow managed to clean up the mess between attacks. The wife went out and picked up some more nausea medication and a bottle of ginger ale, for I needed to fix that problem before addressing the other one. That’s how I spent the rest of Tuesday…shivering on the couch in a cold sweat feeling like I was just ran over by a bus, or sitting on the toilet with my head buried in a large soup pot while cursing my own existence.

I knew I had to keep drinking fluids, but little was working. I attempted orange juice, but there was no hope in keeping that down, so I stuck with sipping on ginger ale trying to get the upper half of my digestive system back under control. At the end of Tuesday, my entire digestive track was clean as a whistle, which I never understood that phrase since blowing on a whistle after someone else isn’t very hygienic, but I digress. Let’s just say I had visual evidence there was nothing left in my digestive system and leave it at that.

After a night of successfully maintaining control over my upper half, I attempted to eat a few bites of chicken noodle soup Wednesday morning. My stomach waited a whole 20 minutes before rejecting the latest offering. I viewed this delay as progress and made another attempt a couple hours later. When an hour passed after my second attempt with the soup, I braved another assault on the problem with my lower digestive system. Two more magic pills with a sip of ginger ale.

Ah…sweet success. A little more chicken soup and sips of ginger ale,  soon my digestive issues were under control. Albeit only barely thanks to meditation and nausea medication allowing the Imodium pills a chance to keep working. When the lower digestive pressure alarm triggered, I assumed my now customary seated position holding a large soup bowl in my lap. Thinking how thankful I was we only have two ends of our digestive track to worry about, because I couldn’t have handled a third. Just gas! Hurrah, hallelujah thank the…cough, gasp, choke, oh my god where is that can of Lysol?

I bowed my head in prayer to the heavily used large soup pot before me, trying to keep down what little I had eaten over the last few hours. Where once I was thankful for not having a sinus problem at the same time as a stomach problem, I now wished otherwise. My ability to still smell was about to foil everything and cause my body to betray me once again. (Keeping in mind I hadn’t showered in two days and only accomplished properly brushing half my teeth the morning prior before suffering another attack. Thank goodness for mouthwash!)

My free hand found the can of Lysol providing not only some aromatic relief, but also gifting my arm with extended reach to turn on the exhaust fan without risking any further stomach jostling. Victory had been preserved!

I survived the ordeal to spread the word about the dangers of eating chicken noodle soup and drinking ginger ale with fully functional olfactories.

YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!

© copyright 2011-2012

Dear Ivfmale, cum injection needle?

Works been keeping me busy, busy, busy. But I’m taking a break anyway to bring you this weeks Dear Ivfmale. 😀 Some searches were sad, some were funny, lets sample a few of both shall we?

— i’m ashamed of my infertility i don’t want to talk about it
Perfectly natural to feel this way. It’s a hard pill to swallow after months of trying to conceive. Each month thinking this would be the one. There is nothing to be ashamed of, it’s not your fault. Staying quiet about your situation is a typical response. Few will understand the emotions we’re dealing with and offer platitudes that hurt rather than help. Ask your doctor about counselors or support groups in your area to connect with others that understand. Or you can start an infertility blog when you’re ready to talk about it.

— ivf failed wife left me
My heart goes out to you. You need to talk to a professional, not Mr. Google. I sincerely hope you find happiness.

— semen dessert
I bet if someone wrote a recipe book using semen they would make at least $5.

— cum injectionneedle
It’s called a penis.

— hvac ivrf fault finding
How in the hell did you find this blog with that search?

Sorry to cut it short this week, back to the grindstone. Hope everyone is having a good Holiday Season.

© copyright 2011-2012

Is IVF destructive?

The decision to attempt IVF is not an easy one to make. For most it is a financial gamble on a dream that will take years to recover from. But this is nothing compared to emotional struggle a couple will face when IVF is their last option for a biological child.  Moral, ethical and religious questions weigh heavily on the minds of any couple facing IVF.

There is a disturbing need by some to connect embryonic losses during IVF with the concept of destroying a life through an abortion. Regardless of your view on abortion, not all losses during the IVF process are cases of destroying life.

Even more insulting is the assumption couples attempting IVF are blasé about these losses; we only care about the take home baby. Nothing could be further from the truth. When my Wife and I heard 9 mature eggs were harvested, realistically I thought 5 would grow after being fertilized. Reading the statistics from other IVF couples, I knew 5 was a reasonable number, even if still optimistic. The fact is our Reproductive Endocrinologist, the Embryologist, the nurses, techs, my Wife and I were all HOPING every one of the 9 eggs fertilized would result in a viable embryo.

If a farmer plants 15 corn seeds, and only 6 grow into stalks of corn, we don’t say the farmer “destroyed” 9 plants do we? Why do some feel the need to label these losses as destroying or killing innocent life when everyone involved was doing everything they could avoid it? Clinics don’t transfer multiple embryos hoping all but one survives, it’s simply the odds the doctor’s are dealing with. Most clinics are responsible about the number of embryos transferred into the womb, a few aren’t. We can’t let the case of Octomom tarnish and warp how IVF is viewed to those not dealing with infertility.

To be honest, my biggest fear during the IVF process wasn’t ending up empty handed. My biggest fear was facing the need for selective reduction.  A situation our clinic tries very hard to avoid. Holding clinics responsible for relying too often on selective reduction is certainly a cause I could get behind. However, transferring two embryos into a womb that both split isn’t a situation any doctor could have predicted. Selective reduction would be needed for the life of the mother and to avoid risking the lives of all the children.

There is one aspect to IVF that is sadly destructive. The discarding of frozen embryos.  Our clinic provided us with the option of what to do with our remaining frozen embryos should we decide to stop having children. To discard or donate for embryonic adoption? There should be more literature provided discussing the benefits of choosing donation to help other infertile couples. An option all clinics should provide to their patients.

I’m not defending the IVF process against all the ethical questions against it. It disturbs me to think how this process could be abused to select designer babies with the right eye and hair color. Or when I hear about it being used for gender selection.

The limited destructive aspect of the IVF process can be reduced through education and holding clinics responsible to keep the number of selective reductions needed as low as possible. But we must fight against the idea that all embryonic losses are destroying life. The majority of losses are because they didn’t survive when everyone involved were hoping they would.

IVF is overcoming an obstacle preventing a couple from conceiving. That’s all. We don’t withhold glasses from those with poor eyesight because they see the way God intended. Nor do we condemn those with a genetic disorders and prevent them from treatments. We treat children suffering leukemia, cyanotic heart defects causing “Blue Babies”, those with cleft pallets, all natural conditions we have overcome using science.

Unlike embryonic stem cell research, none of the embryos created during the IVF process were done so with the intent of being destroyed. The IVF process is about creating life.

With only about a 20% success rate for a couple trying naturally to conceive, the success rate of IVF is much higher. But we have statistics we can point to regarding the losses during IVF. We just don’t know why a fertile couple only has a 20% chance of getting pregnant. While a large number of them are cases of the egg not actually fertilizing…we just don’t know how many did fertilize and didn’t implant like we do with IVF.

I understand the choice of attempting IVF is a difficult one. But don’t let anyone tell you it is against God’s will. If God were that against IVF, wouldn’t its success rate be zero?

Wife Pressed!

I’ve found blogging to be a big help dealing with the emotions throughout this process. The problem I’m facing is previously there was always a new step in the process to talk about. A funny story to share about an uncomfortable Urology visit, or being attacked by an overhead cabinet. Now I’m struggling with what to write about without every post turning into, “woes is me…I’m infertile and IVF didn’t do donkey balls to help me.”

The Dear Ivfmale posts are fun to write. But it’s really hit or miss if I have anything good to talk about.  Twice now I’ve given up and posted something anyway, just to have a plethora of search gems pop up later that day. So I decided to start participating in the weekly “Daily Post Challenge” to keep the blog interesting and relevant to it’s purpose about issues dealing with infertility.

But another part of me wanted to do these challenges in hopes of getting Freshly Pressed. I know I can bring the emotion and I’m pretty sure if the right people would read one of these posts, it would be a good candidate for being selected. Sure it’s simply an ego boost. Frankly, after the dark thoughts running through my head this past weekend, I’m not ashamed to admit I need some ego boosting right now.

So I wrote the poem and posted it hoping that maybe being Freshly Pressed, it might raise my confidence and make me feel there is more to my future than just having a child.

With all the positive comments the poem received, it was a big help in bringing me out of my funk. I felt maybe I do have a shot at being chosen.

Then on Tuesday, my wife read the poem. She loved it! She loved it so much she posted it to her Facebook not caring who read it. It doesn’t matter hardly anyone has clicked her link. It doesn’t matter whether I’m chosen to be Freshly Pressed or not. I was Wife Pressed. She loves my poem and she loves me. And that’s all that really matters.

© copyright 2011-2012

Power of positive emotion

I’m finding keeping my emotions in check to be increasingly difficult. I know this procedure has less than a 40% chance of being successful. I’ve read other blogs talking about the heartache of going through the process without success. But I find myself dangerously excited nonetheless. It is hard not too.

I originally started this blog as an outlet for myself to get some things off my chest. I planned to wait until we received the BFP (big fat positive) or BFN (big fat negative) before telling anyone close to me. The stress of going through this was enough, I just wanted to avoid a list of phone calls I had to make to give updates. I then came to realize this is a good way to distribute information from a central platform. It avoids the need to repeat myself over several phone conversations. So I let a few people close to me know about my blog. They seem to find it informative, interesting and agree that this is a good way to easily keep others in the loop as our progress continues. Today we decided to include a few more family and friends. I can make a post the moment I have any information and avoid the dilemma of whom I should call first. It is proving to be one of my better decisions.

Anyway, my shot technique appears to be working. All the medication stayed in with minimal pain.

The wife feels bad about me having to drive to her work the rest of this week to give her the shot, but I really don’t mind. It was important to keep her mornings free for the ultrasound visits, therefore she requested the evening shift all this week. I’m just glad that after 3 weeks they finally fixed the air conditioning at her work.

© copyright 2011-2012