Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Getting to the Bottom of it: Infertility Testing (May 2009)

Finally, some progress (well, sort of). We were finally referred to see an OB/GYN to begin infertility testing by our doctor's office. It was sort of a fluke how it happened, really. I went in for some back pain, and saw another practitioner at my family doctor's office. While there, she made the mistake of asking me if I was pregnant yet, since I had been on the pre-natal vitamins for so long. After I whined for a few minutes, she told me that there was no reason to wait the full year, as it had been more than 9 months already. She gave me a name and number and advised me that it may take some time to get in to see the OB/GYN, so to call and get something on the calendar. I was so relieved! I called the very next day and scheduled the appointment for about two months out. In retrospect, I could/should have scheduled it for only about a month out. I felt that waiting two months of the three that I "should" to wait was a pretty good compromise. In any case, on May 19th, 2009, we went to see the OB/GYN for the very first time. I thought that I was nearing the end of my journey to get pregnant. For some reason, I thought that there would be some magic about entering her office and I would become pregnant almost instantly. I was very wrong.

I had to wait for my next cycle to begin, but when it did, I immediately scheduled several tests to attempt to determine the cause of our infertility. The first test up was an HSG. HSG is an abbreviation for hysterosalpingogram. Let's agree to just call it an HSG, OK? In this test, dye is injected into a woman's vagina through a very uncomfortable tube while taking an x-ray of her reproductive organs. The point is to see if the dye works its way up through the uterus, into the fallopian tubes, and then spills out. If there are blockages or growths, they would be seen in the images. I had a bit of trouble getting things ironed out to have the HSG done. It was on the calendar for a week, or at least, some sort of appointment was (you have to call on the first day of your period and it is scheduled for sometime between day 7 and 10 of the cycle). Mine was on the calendar for my cycle day 7. When I got to the appointment, the nurse took me back for my routine pregnancy checkup. Yeah, read that again. After I finished blinking in shock and stammering in discomfort in the hallway at her announcement of this, I got her to understand that what I was supposed to be scheduled for was an HSG. That was a fun conversation. She then said, "Oh, sorry. That has to be done at the hospital, not at our office (which mind you is inside the hospital building). We'll just set it up for next month." Next month? NEXT MONTH?!?! Five minutes later after I had finished bawling in the hallway and realized that I had crumpled into a chair (I don't recall willing myself to sit), she came to understand (through my blubbering) that although this was a Friday, it was my cycle day 7. That meant that my cycle day 10 (still within the cycle date range for the test) was the following Monday, another business day. She took me back to the waiting room, which was now empty as it was about 3:45 on a Friday afternoon, and had me wait there. It took her nearly half an hour to come back. In the interim I tried to stop crying, really I did. It wasn't much use though. As I sat there, I just imagined the gap of yet another month of just waiting and wondering and delaying the start of treatment even further. After the mental and emotional buildup that I went through just to get ready for the HSG - renown for being an unpleasant test - the thought of having to wait a whole month to build myself up for it all over again was simply too much. Thankfully, she came back with some pretty good news. I was all set for the HSG the following Monday. I stammered out a few expressions of gratitude, and made my way out to my car. That weekend, the last weekend in May 2009, was a very rough weekend for me emotionally. Let's just fast forward to Monday, shall we?

Monday came, and I had decided to take the day off work for my personal sanity. I was such an emotional wreck; I didn't trust myself in the office. I think it was a pretty good decision, even though I had to miss some meetings that I really should have been at. In any case, my appointment was at 1:30 in the afternoon, and of course, I showed up at the hospital very early. That turned out to be a good thing. After filling out my paperwork, and talking with an administrative nurse who collected some additional information from me, I was taken back to a changing room. I changed into my lovely gown, locked up my belongings, and paced around this new waiting room, which I had all to myself (thankfully). After about 10 minutes (it seemed like much, much longer), I was taken back to the x-ray room by a very nice radiologist. My OB/GYN was there waiting for me, so we got things rolling. The test was scarier than I thought it would be. The room was dark (I really didn't expect that - I'm not one who has had extensive experience with hospitals, x-rays, etc!), and there were lots of machines. I'm not sure what I expected, but this was not it. I lay down on the table and got into the "female bits examination" pose, which is always lots of fun. The tube was put inside of me, and I was told to slide back on the table and lay down, which I did. I turned my head to watch the screen that the radiologist was watching, and braced myself. I started to feel some cramping as I watched the dye move up in the image on the screen. Apparently I have a picture-perfect uterus. How's that for TMI? My Right tube popped up immediately on the image as well, with spillage almost immediately. Again, perfect. My left side was being a little stubborn for the camera. I was given the order to roll a bit to my side. So I did. The next thing I knew, I was blinded by pain. I heard the doctor talking in the distance, apologizing that she had put in too much dye at once. I heard the radiologist, from miles away, telling me to talk to her. I saw my left tube and ovary displayed on the screen - perfect again, I might mention. I saw the radiologist looking concerned. She asked me a few more times to talk to her. It was all foggy, and I remember thinking that I didn’t really feel like answering her at the time, but I’d consider it later. I finally managed to stammer out "ow" in response to their pleas for me to talk. There was some relieved giggling. Apparently I had gone into mild shock. My pupils had dilated rapidly, I had broken out in a cold sweat, and I had become non-responsive for a minute. The cramping was horrible for that minute, but then it subsided into a normal level of unpleasant cramping. After a few minutes, I got up and moved to a private bathroom to clean up some of the dye, which is actually clear, but very sticky. And that was it! I had a clean bill of health on my bits. They were just right and perfect for baby-making. Whew!

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