I had another 3-month checkup at Dana-Farber on Monday. My CT scan and blood work came back normal. My oncologist believes that I’m in the clear now, meaning a recurrence is unlikely. My appointment frequency has been extended from quarterly to biannually, with the next one in December.
We spoke briefly about my Severe Oligospermia diagnosis. The oncologist believes that my body could naturally overcome it, but I shouldn’t wait and hope for that–in vitro is the starting point when ready for family planning.
I received news from my primary care physician regarding my fertility lab results. Not good, but somewhat expected. I’ve got severe oligospermia, which means having kids the good old-fashioned way isn’t going to happen. The normal counts are 20 million per milliliter. I’m at 700,000 per milliliter. Prior to chemo, the sperm bank stated that my counts were low, but I can’t recall what the numbers were. The good news is that there still is an option available, it is called Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI). That means a test-tube baby (e.g., one sperm, one egg, fertilized outside the womb). Jess and I are going to find out more information about this. I imagine our insurance company will have an elaborate vetting process for such an expensive procedure.
Tomorrow, I start my day with a trip to the local sperm bank, however it’s called an “endocrine lab” at Brigham & Women’s. I’m pretty sure they use this name to keep people from laughing at what is actually going on in there. I’ve got to freeze my “goods” because chemo treatment could potentially make me infertile.
On a ridiculously stupid note, my HMO (Blue Cross) covers almost all of my cancer-related treatment which is great, but according to their existing policy, I can only freeze sperm if “currently undergoing a treatment that causes infertility”.
In a nut shell, I have to start the chemo first, then freeze my sperm to qualify. I beg to differ… the moment my right testicle was removed was the start of treatment that could cause infertility. Of course my oncologist agrees, informing me that the moment I start chemo- I could become permanently infertile. Thus, I’m going to the sperm bank without Blue Cross agreeing to pay for it, which would be a $1,100 bill, plus $400 annually for the freezer space. To Blue Cross’ credit, my situation is now under review with their grievance department, and I’m hoping for a positive outcome. I think common sense is on my side, as I’m sure a story about an HMO refusing to help a young man who wants to have children won’t help their PR efforts.
After the sperm clinic, I’m headed over to Dana-Farber for my 2nd CT scan of the month. I get to try the drinkable dye this time, which I’m ecstatic about. My first CT scan involved an IV injected dye, which burned like hell, and I’m a big wimp when it comes to needles. If I could drink Milwaukee’s Best in college, I sure as hell can drink some chalk-tasting liquid tomorrow.
I’ll follow that up with a PFT (pulmonary function test). I opted for BEP chemo treatment, which poses some sort of risk of lung damage. This test is supposed to determine the current health of my lungs. I’ve heard that this involves breathing into a tube, but it doesn’t hurt.