So many of us struggle with infertility, yet we do so in the shadows. The unspoken struggles of eerily white negative pregnancy tests.
The heartbreak of another month gone; our wombs longing for children.
Something so natural, something so normal, something we cannot do. It divides us from the rest of the world.
This month, The Band, we're inviting all of you who have struggled with infertility and miscarriage to bring your stories to the light.It's time to shine the spotlight on infertility and destroy the shadows we live in.
Here in the Cruz household, we never to do anything in half measures. That applies to medical issues as well as everything else.
In early 2006, my husband Vic was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. While it's not a diagnosis anyone wants to get, our attitude at the time was that at least it was a treatable and a manageable disease...little did we know.
I remember one of the first things Vic's doctor asked him at the first appointment where he learned about managing his diabetes.
*Dr. Thomas looked at Vic and asked, "Have you noticed any decrease in your sex drive or ability to perform?"
Vic laughed and said, "We have a three-month old baby. Any change in sex drive has been chalked up to exhaustion."
Dr. Thomas told Vic that erectile dysfunction is a frequent side effect of diabetes (due to impaired blood flow) and if the sex drive didn't pick back up as the diabetes came under control, Vic should let him know.
Eventually, Viagra was prescribed and Daddy's Little Helper took care of the issue. When we decided to try to complete our family, Viagra was obviously part of the plan but I didn't think it would have a major role.
Less than three months after we started trying again, Vic's diabetes decided to rebel. Blood sugars that had previously been fairly well in hand spiraled out of control.
A pancreas that was feeling ignored by the body decided that since the body wasn't using its insulin, it would stop making insulin at all. Although he was still technically a Type 2 Diabetic, he was now completely insulin-dependent. At this point, Viagra became a big part of our efforts, not because it helped, but because it had stopped working reliably.
While Vic's endocrinologist eventually got his blood sugar under control, it took massive doses of insulin to do so. Those massive doses of insulin controlled his blood sugar levels but they never allowed the Viagra to work well again and the doses of insulin definitely never allowed us to ditch Daddy's Little Helper.
In fact, the massive doses of insulin caused (and still cause) all kinds of other issues such as weight gain (Yes, it really is a side effect of large doses of insulin.) which exacerbated the diabetes. And, while Vic's blood sugar levels were mostly controlled, his weight went up, his energy levels went way down, and he started to develop peripheral neuropathy.
And, let me tell you, that peripheral neuropathy is a real bitch. When people talk about peripheral diabetic neuropathy, they think about it affecting the feet, maybe some numbness and pain. What no one ever tells you is that peripheral diabetic neuropathy can also cause some loss of sensation in the genital area.
So, at this point you have blood flow issues and loss of sensation coupled with the Viagra not working, which meant that our efforts to conceive came to a screeching halt. Honestly, I was in mourning - not only the loss of a potential fourth child but also the loss of our sex life. I loved and do love my husband. Nothing will change that... but I missed our sex life.
At some point, Vic had to change endocrinologists. This turned out to be a truly fabulous thing. His new doctor finally got a handle on his blood sugar and, a little over a year ago, that endocrinologist finally tested Vic's thyroid function - something that should have been checked from day one. Vic turned out to have a pretty severe case of hypothyroidism. His under-functioning thyroid was a major cause of his lack of energy. Then, about three and a half months ago, Vic switched endocrinologists once again because, while he loved the doctor, the office staff sucked.
Once again, the doctor change turned out to be a wonderful thing. His newest doctor is truly sharp and on the ball. She was the first one who mentioned to Vic that not only is the thyroid frequently affected by diabetes but, often times, testosterone levels hit the bottom of the barrel when a thyroid is so severely affected.
Sure enough, once again it was a case of doing things in grand fashion. When it was tested, Vic's testosterone levels came back as being abnormally low. It was strike three against any possible efforts to conceive and it was a classic case of male factor infertility, diabetes-style.
It was infertility: take two for the Cruz family.
That's why I went silent about infertility for so long. While it was part of our infertility journey, it wasn't mine to tell. At least, not without permission. Also, I just couldn't quite deal with it all until there was a possibility of some solution, some resolution.
Finally, I want to say a special and heartfelt thank you to my wonderful husband, Vic, for allowing me to share this story. It takes a special man to have the confidence to share a story like this. When I asked Vic if it was all right to share this, he not only said yes, but he told me that he thought it was really important to get this information out so it could possibly help someone.
To quote Vic directly, "When your body says fuck you, start getting tests done."6 Comments