I wanted to start by again thanking everyone who has supported us emotionally, temporally, financially or otherwise. We would not have made it this far without every one of you.
As an update: Katie and I went in last week for our retrieval. The good news was we retrieved 40 eggs! 29 of them made it to freezing. The bad news is, we found 0 sperm. This was quite the blow and it has been a very rough week for us emotionally. It was inexplicable, both to us and our doctor, how this could have happened. In fact, Dr. Foulk said that in 20 years of practicing, this is only the second time he has had this happen. That’s both comforting and sad.
To explain why this is crazy, and why we still have hope, I will use the analogy of an orange.
DISCLAIMER: If you have been reading our blog up to this point, you know that we are not squeamish about using clinical terms like sperm, uterus and testes. However, if you are squeamish, you may want to not read ahead, I will be discussing some pretty intensely clinical things here.
When you open up an orange, there are thousands of little juice sacs, or vesicles. Most testes are full of little tubes or “pockets” that produce millions of sperm. Mine however, are more like those oranges you bit into that are dry on the inside. (We always called it a pithy orange, growing up). In other words, I only have a few little spots here and there that are producing sperm. This is why I had 2-4 single sperm in each biopsy compared to millions otherwise. So, imagine this orange being dried out on the inside and you insert a needle to try and find juice. What are the chances you will find juice? Well, this is why, even after 14 biopsies, the staff found nothing in my samples. Well, if you can’t find juice from the outside, look on the inside, right?
So, the next step is a micro-disscetion TESE. It is basically akin to peeling the orange… yup… then slicing it in half–uh-huh–and looking for the juice pockets manually. That’s right. They use a $150,000 microscope to manually search through a teste to find any seminiferous tubes they can. (If you would like to make the same mistake I did and watch a youtube video of the actual procedure, then go to youtube and search micro TESE. It’s the first video. Warning: This is a video of the actual procedure. Not for the faint of heart.) Men, you can imagine why this is a last resort. It is also MUCH more expensive; normally in the realm of $10-15,000. Being that we have already spent about that much to get us this far, it seemed more or less out of the question. Cue the greatest doctor ever.
Dr Foulk sat us down and told us he couldn’t stop thinking about us and how annoyed he was that he couldn’t find anything. He then called his friend who is a urologist in Salt Lake, and does these procedures. He agreed to let Dr Foulk rent their microscope for the clinic for a month. Instead of doing the procedure up there at the hospital, paying the hospital fees, OR fees, staff, etc., then freezing what we find (which would kill half of them) and coming back, we would actually do the procedure at the fertility clinic. This brings the cost down to somewhere around a third of that. Dr. Foulk would charge, basically at cost, for the procedure. He also said that, because he’s so dead-set on making this happen for us, he would waive the transfer and implantation costs altogether. Since we already paid for that, this would go on as a credit toward the micro-TESE.
Needless to say, we are both overwhelmed at the roller coaster this has been thus far, and especially at the outpouring of support from UFC. We were told by multiple people that our embryologist, Ammon, spent five hours pouring over my samples last week. They literally had to tear him away from the lab and force him to stop looking. Our nurses have all been telling us they are all rooting for us and they all have checked in multiple times to make sure we’re okay. We are very blessed to have such a wonderful team behind us.
The next few months will be tight and stressful. But we are confident that this will work. At the very least, we feel relieved because, if nothing else, we have an end-point. No more ifs, ands or maybes. Either this works, or it doesn’t. If it works, we get a baby. If not, we adopt. It is simple and hopeful. And don’t worry, we’ll keep you along for the ride as usual.