First Shot vs. X,000th Shot

I’m here!  This is my first post on this blog…I’m Joe, the husband!  …and I suffer from Pan-hypo-pit.  I feel like I’m introducing myself to an AA-group or something, but hey, it is what it is….  I hope anyone who is reading this likes to read a lot…

First off, Pan-hypo-pit…as the doctors call it.  It is short for Panhypopituitarism, meaning my whole(pan) pituitary gland(pit) is under-productive(hypo).  My pituitary gland was damaged at birth at the hospital I was delivered at…I was immediately rushed to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and I was diagnosed with this condition there.  I can’t blame my parents…they get off lucky for smoking pot and drinking while pregnant, it was mainly the doctor’s fault…as I’ve been told it was the way he grabbed me during delivery.

My parents were instructed on giving injections as I would require injections my entire life.  I was put on growth hormone at birth and received those injections, which were insulin-type of syringes (30 gauge, ½” needle), until I was about 16/17.  My bone growth was always behind the average bone structure of someone my age…therefore I was always the ‘little kid’ in class.  In 5th grade, I was the shortest kid, I looked like a 3rd grader!  Nowadays, I wish I could still look that young!

All in all, the treatments worked as they were intended.  I’m currently 5’10” and taller than both my mother and father.  However, growth hormone was intended to make me grow…and that is all.  I was placed on testosterone shots when I was 16 to bring on the onset of puberty…otherwise, I would have not developed.  Those shots were not so friendly…first off, they were huge, intramuscular shots (22 gauge, 1” needle) and the medication was no longer water-based…it was an oil-based medication.

Let me veer away from topic a bit and describe an intramuscular injection from a 16 year old’s view…  After getting an injection every day of my life, I had come to a realization that those injections were the only type of injections.  When I first saw the syringe, I nearly cracked my head off the wall behind me.  I had never seen anything like that…then the doctor showed me the needle itself and I thought I had just shit myself.  Suffice it to say, that was not a pleasant day…and suffice it to say, I just used the word ‘suffice’ twice in the way Erin loves the most!

So, once I was finished with the daily growth hormone injections, which was a great day in my book, I was forced to begin the bi-weekly intramuscular injections.  My mother had always administered my injections, from birth up until the time I stopped the testosterone.  Although it was a more dramatic injection, it did offer me up some more freedom and the ability to become a little more independent being I no longer had to be tied to my mother’s waist.

The story goes on and on…boy meets girl, they get married, they have a baby- oh wait…not quite.  Erin knew going into marriage that we would have difficulties having children as I made her fully aware of my condition…and, yeah, somehow she still said ‘I do’!  About two and a half years ago, we finally decided it was time to start a family and not just having ‘hot wild sex’ as my mother puts it….she said we have so much hot sex that we melted the siding on the house….no lie.

So, I scheduled an appointment with my endocrinologist and brung up the discussion about having children with my condition.  He said he would have to do some research and I should start taking HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin).  That was all the advice he was able to provide.  Soooo…….I went to my family doctor and told him about wanting to have kids and that I needed to find a new endocrinologist.  He agreed it was time…for both.

As a ‘normal’ doctor would do, he sent me for a few tests before prescribing medications…blood work and a semen analysis.  The results were typical for a Pan-hypo-pit patient and he referred me to a fertility doctor, Dr. S (I’d rather not call out specific names).  It turns out Dr. S was for the female and the fertility procedures…he sent me to a urologist, Dr. H.  I scheduled an appointment with the extremely busy Dr. H and after a long wait; I was finally able to meet the guy that was going to get us through this…

He put me on a specified dose of HCG, after reviewing my test results, and told me exactly what to expect.  I was supposed to be on HCG for 3-4 months and then go for additional testing. The HCG shots were the exact same syringe/needle as the testosterone, however it was a water-based medication, no more oil!  Erin and I both sat down with my mother and explained that we were going to start trying to have a family and she would no longer need to give me injections…it was time I finally stood up and took over.

I quickly realized when you are giving yourself a monster injection, it is a lot simpler knowing what does and what doesn’t hurt.  Therefore I’ve become quite skilled at giving myself the injections and lost my fear of needles quite swiftly!

After 3 months, my wife is impatient, the results came back with no change.  He presented me a few options as to what else we could do, ranging from donors to my father (shudder the thought) to surgical procedures…and finally, staying on the meds a little longer.  We decided to try to wait it out for a little.  So, after 5 more months, I went for another follow-up and the results were better!  Not quite preferable, but better!  Hey, let’s face it, when the number goes from 0 to anything, that’s a good sign!

Dr. H was impressed that things had improved and offered up the next step…FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone).  This little guy was a pain in the pocket!  A three week supply costs us nearly $850…on top of the $250 for a three week dosage of HCG, our bills top over $1,000 a month in medication alone.  This was not good for our savings…

Dr. H told me the same thing as before though…3-4 months and we should be where we need to be.  Here I sit, typing this, nearly 12 months later and we’re as far as we’re going to go with this…  As we’ve started the IVF procedures, the obvious fact is that with the combined efforts of both HCG and FSH, I’ve only been able to get so far.  Although we couldn’t make things happen without IVF, we are still moving forward with confidence.

Now, as the title of my post here comes into play…  I’ve received an injection every day of my life up until I was 16, then one every two weeks until I was 28, then three a week until I was 30 and finally one a day for the past year now…  I’ve received/administered thousands of shots, so by now I should be a pro.  Well, not quite…I’ve only ever given myself a shot…never someone else.

This past Wednesday evening, I got to play doctor for real.  I had to administer the first round of Gonal-F to Erin in her belly.  I did my best trying to play it off that it wouldn’t be that bad and it won’t hurt that much, it’s a small needle, it’ll be painless…yada yada yada…  I felt pretty confident in my abilities, but then again, they were my abilities on myself, not others.  So, we got into position, Erin laid on her back with her feet slightly elevated for comfort.  I stood to her left and pinched some skin….she freaked out.

I could feel her muscles tensing up and tightening every time I touched her, so I knew this first round wasn’t going to be pleasant for her even if she didn’t feel anything.  I’ve found a way to give myself my shots so that I don’t feel anything at all…however, I need to be very focused and keep very calm when I inject myself.

I told her to keep in constant contact with me…let me know if I’m hurting her or not hurting her…  What happened?  Silence!  I can’t blame her, I know how tense she was.  So, I started off slow and didn’t try to rush into things too fast…I know these little needles can sting and burn if not done just right.  So when she did finally say something, “yes, it hurts”, I pulled it off of her…since all I had done at that point was let the weight of the needle lay on her skin.

We took a couple of breaths and she said just do it, she said it was going to hurt either way, so just get it done.  And that is exactly what I did…pinch, push, pull.  It was done.  She has officially started her medication and I had just given my first injection.  Next came the tears…and later, hematoma… (inside joke).

Great, now with that done and out of the way, only two more weeks of getting a needle followed by giving a needle every night!  This kid(s) better love us and understand all we’ve gone through!!!

Lastly, I have to come clean about my parents…I don’t believe my mother ever smoked pot while pregnant. 🙂


3 thoughts on “First Shot vs. X,000th Shot

  1. I found giving my wife injections a lot more difficult than giving them to myself.

    Has your doctor talked to you about freezing your sperm? It might be worth putting some in the bank while the numbers are up so you can stop your injections sooner. I know the drain this can put on the pocket book and it might help keep options open later on without needing to spend thousands of more dollars to keep your numbers at a high level.

    Best of luck you two with your cycle.

    • Yes, it can be difficult…but with the hormone imbalance going on in our household, it is nice to hold a little power! LOL, just kidding… At least with doing it to myself, I know when it hurts…she just tenses up when I say “ok, it’s time”, so it’s hard to judge when it is going smoothly or not for her…

      I have two specimens already frozen, but the Dr’s recommended being able to provide a fresh sample at the time of retrieval for the best results…so I have to stay on the meds until we know we have healthy frozen embryos… Trust me I’ve tried everything to cut back expenses!!!

      • I understand wanting to use a fresh sample. Just curious if the Dr was having you put some in the bank for a backup option down the line. Sometimes these Dr’s consider cost, sometimes they overlook ways that could reduce our future costs or make it easier on us financially.

        More than once I had to ask the clinic to perform a blood test after an office consultation to avoid an additional copay charge. Just because I haven’t decided if we are moving forward, I would still rather take the blood test now to save time and money if I do decide to continue on.

        Ah the medication mood swings. Fun times.

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