Practicing What I Preach

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Dear Curious,

Thank you for your comment on my previous post. As always, I welcome any responses to what I write. To me, any response means that I’m effectively getting my words out into the world.

My last post did not mean to belittle Cancer as a disease. And yes, I realize that I was a bit over the top and melodramatic at the end. I truly debated as to whether or not I should respond to you. But then I thought that I should really practice what I preach.

And what I’ve been preaching lately is that it’s better to educate others about Infertility than perpetuating a myth.

In this case, it’s the myth that Infertility is not a disease, but rather just a “condition” that is a result of a “badly dealt hand” in life.

Or as Margaret Wente’s editorial in The Globe and The Mail indicates, “Many things in life are deeply unfair, and infertility is just one of them … … [In the] meantime, record numbers of people are embracing childlessness out of choice. It seems that one person’s deep unfairness is another’s blessed liberation.”

So, as an RN Case Manager … who has not only taken care of many Cancer patients at the hospital and has followed up with them on an ongoing basis after they’ve returned to their homes … let me take the opportunity here to dispell this myth.

1. Let’s first get our definitions straight.

Condition: a usually defective state of health (from Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)

Disease: a condition of the living animal or plant body or of one of its parts that impairs normal functioning and is typically manifested by distinguishing signs and symptoms (from Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)

Cancer: a term used for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and are able to invade other tissues (from the National Cancer Institute website)

Diabetes: a group of diseases characterized by high blood glucose levels that result from defects in the body’s ability to produce and/or use insulin (from the American Diabetes Association website)

Infertility: a disease of the reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve a clinical pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse (as defined by the World Health Organization, as stated by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine website).

2. Now, let’s discuss the difference between a condition and a disease.

Many diseases started out as a being known as a “condition.” Diabetes was a “sugar condition.” Asthma was a “breathing condition.” It’s not until science began to do more research to determine the reason for its abnormal patterns in functioning that a condition came to be called a disease.

To me, this is why giving voice to Infertility and educating the general population is extremely important: so that more research can be done to discover how to effectively and consistently treat Infertility. And when I mean “consistently,” I mean that there should be a specific pathway (or guideline to follow) for treatment of Infertility. Much like there are standards of practice for treatment of the various types of Cancer.

3. Now let me discuss why I think all diseases aren’t fatal, as you’ve indicated.

Eczema isn’t fatal. Scleroderma isn’t fatal. Diabetes isn’t even fatal. What’s fatal is what happens if appropriate treatment is not carried out. That’s when other health conditions (or comorbidities) can add to the complications involving the disease.

Going back to Diabetes: If a Diabetic’s blood sugar isn’t controlled properly, then this could lead to diabetic nephropathy — or kidney disease. This is caused by the kidneys working overtime to filter out protein from the body. Continued overworking can cause kidney failure which could, again if untreated could cause toxicity in the body, ultimately leading to death. But would a pathologist consider diabetes as the cause of death in a situation like this? Likely no; it would most likely be kidney failure as a complication from Diabetes.

Now, substitute diabetes in this situation with, let’s say … pancreatic cancer. Again, pancreatic cancer could more likely be the complication in a fatal situation such as this.

4. So now let me talk about why I think complications from Infertility can be fatal.

First there’s the idea of an abnormal reproductive system; which, like most diseases, could be caused from a variety of different sources. In this case, it’s during any part of the reproductive cycle. But just for sh*ts and giggles … let’s say that — in determining the cause for Infertility — the woman discovers that she has Ovarian Cancer. Or we find out that the man has Testicular Cancer. Then I could logically assume (as you’ve pointed out) that Infertility can be related to Cancer (or vice versa, for that matter) and any complications that result from Cancer can be fatal.

Or … how about this? Let’s say, in the quest to have a child, a woman who has put her body at risk to become pregnant is suddenly more at risk during her pregnancy because of Pre-ecclampsia. And suddenly it becomes evident that a choice needs to be made as to whether to save the woman or her baby? I know women who have tragically been through this. And I hope, sometime in your life that you might have some empathy for them …

5. And finally, speaking of sympathy … I must point out that sympathy for my Infertility is not what I’m asking from you … or from anyone.

What I really want is empathy. And that would mean that I’d want the understanding from others that Infertility is a disease and it deserves to be recognize. It’s not something to be swept under the rug or ignored.

And quite frankly, I would hope that a person with Cancer would also want empathy rather than sympathy. For me, someone who is sympathetic can only “feel” pity and sorrow for someone’s misfortune. While a person who is empathetic has the ability to recognize, comprehend, perceive and directly feel the emotion of another. Seriously. I’d rather have someone recognize and comprehend how difficult it is to be in my situation than to just simply say (perhaps in their head), “Too bad, so sad.”

So here’s one last set of definitions.

Sympathy: the feeling or mental state brought about by such sensitivity (from Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)

Empathy: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner (from Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)

So hopefully you now have a better understanding of why I wrote my last post.

I’m not asking for more recognition than what Cancer, with its multitude of community support, already has. I’m just simply asking for recognition.

And finally … just so you know. I am a survivor of Infertility … not because one of my parents suffered from Infertility (because my Mom did ) … and not because I ended up having children (because I didn’t) … I consider myself a survivor because I was able to sustain years of treatment for Infertility and came out the other end of a verrry long tunnel with my dignity (relatively) intact.

Best of luck in wherever your life takes you,


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Lessons Learned

Lessons I’ve learned from posting daily for the past 64 days:

  1. It’s tougher than you think
  2. Like anything, you have to make time in your busy day to write.
  3. I can find inspiration in just about anything.
  4. There’s no such thing as writer’s block. It’s more “motivation” block.
  5. Because I can think of a ton of things I’d like to write, but sometimes don’t have the mental toughness or patience to fight through it.
  6. And really, it’s more the patience I have an issue with; since time seems to be limited lately.
  7. But if I had all the time in the world, I could probably do it 365 days a year.
  8. And if money wasn’t an issue, I’d do it for a living.
  9. One day, I’d love to write a book; probably fiction.
  10. But for now, I’ll settle with promising to write … not daily, but at least three or four times a week.


Lessons I’ve learned from my Lenten promise:

  1. It’s tougher than you think.
  2. But not in the way I thought it would be tough.
  3. I found I was generally apt to do good deeds without thinking twice.
  4. And not take any “credit” for it.
  5. Because taking “credit” or having the “spotlight” for doing something nice is not something I’ve ever  felt comfortable with.
  6. So writing about something that would otherwise come natural to me seemed forced.
  7. As if I was “bragging” about myself.
  8. Which brings me back to that Eighth Grade version of me.
  9. But I love the concept about “paying it forward.”
  10. So next year, I think I’ll do the same thing … but just not write about it.


Last one. Which feels good …

Good Deed of the Day: For lack of better words, I saved my manager’s butt today. In other words, I discovered something that, if went undiscovered would have caused a major upheaval in this new “project” we’d been working on. Not that I expect to receive any “credit” for it (see #7 above), I just feel good knowing that this little boo-boo has now been fixed.

Grateful Thought of the Day: Days off … especially since I’m off for the next couple days. Woo-hoo! This means I can spend some quality time with my niece and nephew while they’re in town! Of course, this also means that there will be tons of work for me when I return … <sigh>

My New Life Eggsamined

Easter is another one of those holidays.

No, I don’t mean to belittle Catholicism; because I know that today is the most important Holy Day in the Catholic Faith. And, like Christmas, I do understand the “reason for the season.” I do realize that both are more than just holidays that brings out “fictional” characters (like a Bunny who “lays” eggs or a jolly rotund man dressed up in a red suit** ) that bring about candy and gifts.

What I mean to say is that Easter has become one of those holidays like Christmas and Mother’s/Father’s Day that, to an infertile couple, can be a difficult one. It’s a reminder of what we currently don’t have in our lives; the children who enjoy the wonderment of Easter and the joy that hopefully all parents have when they see the look in their kids eyes. It’s a reminder of all the new life that Springs brings into the world.

Perhaps some infertile couples go on to having children naturally or through other assistive measures. Others have braved the waters and opened their homes and hearts to adopt children. And then there are those that have taken the less explored road of living child-free.

While I can relate very much to those couples that are currently experiencing infertility; I find it more and more difficult to relate to those infertile couples that have crossed over to parenthood.

Please don’t get me wrong … I’m incredibly happy that those who have “survived” infertility have gone on to live their dreams of having a family. And I’m proud of the strength that they continue to have as they raise their children after all the struggles they went through to have them.

For those couples that have decided to live child-free, it wasn’t a decision that came lightly. It wasn’t something that came to us as if to say, “Well, we’ve already been living child-free; so why shake things up now?” And it’s certainly not a decision that we made based on selfishness.

Hubby & Me as Easter Eggs

No … it’s a decision that came after a long struggling road of peaks and valleys; of unnerving anxiety and unwanted stress. And when there was simply not enough energy, not enough finances; not enough miracles left from up above … the only option was to pick up the pieces of the already shattered dream and start a new life.

So perhaps this Easter; the first year that Hubby & I have officially decided to live child-free … it will be this Easter in which we celebrate the next phase in our marriage; we’ll begin our new life.


Happy Easter to all of you out in Blogland! I hope that this Easter brings about a New Life in all of you. And now for the second to last Lenten Daily for the season.

Daily Good Deed: What better way to celebrate the arrival of my niece and nephew this evening by putting together a couple of Easter baskets? Nothing fancy, but a little something to let them know that they are loved by their Uncle & Auntie.

Daily Grateful Thought: We spent Easter afternoon with our friend T who invited us over to celebrate Easter with his mom and brother at his brother’s place in Evanston. Oh … and did I forget to tell you that T’s brother is a Jesuit priest?! Yes … we had an absolutely delightful time and am so grateful for such a wonderful Easter celebration. More importantly, I’m still so grateful for old friends.


** Which, by the way …did you know that the North Magnetic Pole is currently located in Canada? Guess that means Santa Claus is Canadian.

Plum Tuckered Out

Ugh. This is the third to the last post before I finish up my Lenten promise. And I must say that I’m struggling to find the energy to write something rather creative.

Maybe I’m just exhausted today. After all, Hubby & I spent most of the day doing some major Spring cleaning. Afterwards, we headed out to run some errands and then grab a bite to eat before heading home. And now, Hubby & I are chilling out in front of the TV watching all those shows we DVR’ed over the past week.

Yesterday I got my lab test results back from my doctor. Other than being slightly anemic, everything else was normal. Even my thyroid levels. So that means that I am a lazy a$$ person who would rather do nothing more than work and sleep. And other than taking some over-the-counter iron supplements, I was told that the combination of my low Hgb level and my lack of ability to stay asleep was the reason for my chronic fatigue.

To which I say “Hmmph!”

Okay, so it’s not that I don’t doubt my Doc. It’s more that after all the years of dealing with infertility and needing to be able to “read” my body that I know something’s just not right here. I know that this ongoing fatigue is more than just anxiety and stress. I know it’s more than just the fact that I find myself tired even when I wake up after what I felt was a good night’s sleep.

For awhile I thought it was seasonal affective disorder. And I even thought that it was that same depression I felt for so long during the worst part of my infertility journey. But because I’m still on the appropriate treatment regimen for that, I’m pretty sure that this is not the case.

So I decided to do the next best thing; go see a specialist. After a couple of recommendations from both friends and fellow coworkers, I have a few Endocrinologist names in which to make an appointment with. I figure it’s worth a shot to do a little more exploration …


Getting down to the wire here …

Good Deed of the Day: Does spending a couple minutes talking to a strange guy at the grocery store count? Even if it was really him doing all the talking about how cool he liked my “Made In Detroit” jacket?

Grateful Thought of the Day: Does being asked for ID when purchasing alcohol at the grocery store count as something I should be thankful for? Especially when I left said ID in the car? I had to convince the cashier that Hubby & I were married and that it was him (Hubby, who was bagging our own groceries) that was buying it. Either way, the cashier made me feel young; even if it was just for a moment.