Friday, January 15, 2010

So there has been a question about the tests I'm taking.

First, temp went up this morning, back into the previously triphasic territory.

Today is into late period territory, based on the original ovulation assumptions. A friend pointed out that it is possible I did not ovulate and that is true. Apart from the complications presented by the thermometer issues, I was traveling and holidays are stressful and it's not entirely outside the realm of possibility to think that while I had signs of ovulation and what appeared to be a temp shift, I may not have.

No way to know, short of bloodwork.

Well, anyhow, some people in the world apparently don't believe in evaporation lines, which was surprising to me. Or don't know what they are, or something.

I've been hearing that Dollar Tree - previously my cheap test of choice, FRER being the gold standard and ClearBlue Easy Digitals being the ultimate reassurance - are having mixed reviews lately. More people reporting evaporation lines after the time limits, more people reporting phantom lines during the time limits, a few cases of the ever-rare false positive. . .

The problem I've had to date is that I'm getting lines that form within 3 minutes (per their directions, lines generally form before 5 minutes and test results can be read then). They are visible, even at book length (some further), when held straight up or laid flat on a level surface. But they aren't necessarily pink. Well, the one I took last night might generously be described as faint, faint, faint pink if one is feeling magnanimous and standing under strong lights.

So it leaves the question - is it positive or is it an evaporation line? It doesn't fall easily into either category.

Commonly, evaporation lines form after the time limit of the test, when the antibodies have dissolved or broken down and left a microscopic indentation in the test - leftover dye that wasn't fully wicked away (and it happens, which is why tests discolor when left out) settles in the indentation and can appear to be a faint colored line in the results area of the test. It's not a real positive though, even if one gets a stunningly clear positive two days later, because the hormones are done and gone by then.

Less commonly, evaporation lines form during the test limit time. Often in this case, it's a matter of over-eagerness and hopefulness, combined with lighting issues. There is always a second line on the test (unless it was manufactured improperly). That line is usually not visible unless it's positive or you have excellent eye sight. However, sometimes that line appears more readily when not positive because of dye passing over it (common in my experience with FRER - you can see the line very well as the liquid passes over, and it either gets darker to be positive or fades when negative), or the liquid makes it easier to spot and light makes it appear reflective. Sometimes the indentation of the test strip is more pronounced, producing a shadow or a shadowy line. Sometimes there is a grey strip that appears where the antibody strip interacts with liquid, but isn't actually positive.

These are often disappointing, as there can be excitement when you think you see a line, and disappointment as it fades. Or it can introduce the question about what you are seeing. In reality, my experience with this sort of evap line is that this is the one you have to squint to see, the one you have to twist and turn and hold up to the light at just the right angle to see. And if you have to do all that, you shouldn't really count it a positive.

However, that's not always the case with these sort of evap lines. Sometimes ghost lines - visible lines that you can clearly see, but aren't really the right color - form during the time limit and the reality later becomes apparent that it wasn't a true positive (perhaps attributable to chemical pregnancy, perhaps a faulty test).

My recent tests, as I mentioned above, tend to be in the last bit there. It's quite frustrating, because if I were truly pregnant, then I would be expecting hcg to double at such a rate that the test would give a definitive result (even if definitive is still faint - the darkness of the line truly doesn't matter, provided it is the correct color and shows up clearly in the correct time frame).

I'm going to take a more reliable test soon, but I really hate seeing Not Pregnant, and if that is so, it doesn't answer the questions about what is going on with my body. At this point, it could be any of the following: did not actually ovulate; did not ovulate when I believe I did, despite the chart; am not pregnant; have chemical pregnancy; have abnormal pregnancy; have late implanter; have slow grower; have bad tests; have late period. . . on and on it goes, my friends.

To illustrate my confusion, and the dilemmas I'm having here, and to convince you that I am not just crazy (Dh sees these lines too, and believe me, he is not shy in the least about saying he doesn't. And these are a recent development in the last 2 to 3 days. I have had clearly negative tests this cycle already.), please take a look at the following four links to Fertility Friend's hpt/opk gallery. My tests are identical to these.

The first two are from their 'Error Test' section:

The following two are from their 'Positive Test' section:

I'm sure you will note, as I did, that these all look precisely the same. Because the gallery is self-posted and self-edited and there are no links back to charts, it is impossible to say with certainty that the first two are in fact errors (meaning, evap lines) and the second two are in fact positives (meaning, the woman in question was in fact confirmed pregnant).

You see why I feel frustration over this? Adding to that is the fact that were it not for the inconclusive tests, I feel pregnant. Bloated, vaguely crampy now and then, nausea when I get hungry, very tender breasts. . . on and on. And most of all, no period when I expect it. I have only once, in approaching 7 years of charting, had a luteal phase longer than 12 days. I can't recall ever being wrong about having ovulated (versus not), at least over a sustained period (say, more than a week).

And yet, I persist in limbo-land. It's not a lot of fun here, guys. So here is the plan:

I will see what develops over the weekend. If my period shows up, no harm done. No big deal, relief to have an answer. If my period does not show, call to the OB for a beta draw on Monday. Because by that point, I will be quite late and should have a clear positive or some kind of answer about what is happening.

Despite my annoyance and irritation with the uncertainty, I am in a surprisingly good mood. Whatever is going to happen is entirely out my hands right now, and while that frequently drives me insane, today (at least) I am shrugging about it. Because there really isn't much other option, is there?

1 comment:

Leah B said...

I totally understand about the "false positives" as well as the "false negatives". After I miscarried and had my D&E I never got my period. I took a home test (digital) and it said "Not Pregnant". Two days later, I went in for bloodwork, and they said "you might be pregnant". Two days after that, I took another digital test, with another "Not Pregnant" result. That same day, I went and had more bloodwork done, and guess what, the test was wrong. I was definitely pregnant. So I know its hard not to get your hopes up, especially after the terrible loss of Gabriel, but hang in there, and we will keep our fingers crossed for you!