We arrived at the hospital on time. Which was unexpected. So unexpected that I did, in fact, lose my tiny mind and instantly announce to H that I really really needed a pee and I’d be back in a minute. While I was washing my hands, the Radiology receptionist (a man!) barged into the ladies with a sample pot and cried, somewhat theatrically, ‘Too late!’
Oh, hell. The Official pregnancy test. Which a moment’s thought would have reminded me of. And I’d just emptied all the precious fluid down the pan. I said I’d done a pregnancy test myself that morning, but he shook his head and looked mournful, so I took the pot and promised to see what inner reserves of, err, anyway, I’d see what I could do. And so I was late because I spent nearly fifteen minutes in the loo, alternately instructing my bladder to ‘just relax’ and to just bloody get on with it. But! I did it! One centimetre of wee! I have never been so relieved to see my own bodily fluids.
So, that first hurdle was in the end not fallen at.
And then I was called away to change into the surgical gowns, with H trotting behind trailing all bags and coats and looking both resigned and bewildered. They parked him in a waiting ‘area’ (corridor) next to a man being forced to drink pale yellow foaming fluids out of a large jug. Hospitals gloriously disconcerting like that. Said man probably went home to say they’d made him drink his yellow stuff next to a bloke laden down like a pack-horse with feminine hand-baggery and knitting. And then I came out of the changing cubicle wearing two surgical gowns, one back-to-front so one’s scarlet knickers weren’t entertaining anyone, and sat there watching H read a magazine about cars and wondering whether to get on and read my own book or just stare glumly at my own bare feet. Waiting areas never seem very conducive to affectionate behaviour or witty badinage.
When they came to take me away, H and I managed to miss each-other’s eyeline, in that when I turned away he still hadn’t looked up, and I went off after the nurse in a huff, hauling my clothes in a plastic bag after me, but apparantly I just missed him blowing me a kiss, so nil-nil draw for marital harmony there, and waiting corridors REALLY suck and in any case, partners should be banned from even touching the magazines until after the victim has been led beyond their ken. Just saying.
The radiologist and the nurse were both utterly stirling people, sweet, talked to me as if I was an adult woman with an IQ above room temperature (oh! the novelty!), and sat me down and explained the whole thing to me very carefully. I appreciated this very much. I stopped huffing and started to feel calm and sanguine again. So I felt fairly comfortable following them into the Room with the Big Machines and removing my knickers therein. To Vivaldi, no less. Classy touch. And then I climbed up a little set of steps onto an enormously high bed and got scooted into position and draped in sterile towels. I was given the speculum to hold until they were ready for it, so as to make sure it was nice and warm, so I lay there in my little cocoon of sterile green paper, clutching my speculum, discussing how you pronounce my name (as the nurse had the same name! Cute!), breathing deeply, and the importance of learning a second language early in life, while they both strapped lead-lined aprons on. It’s a lonely feeling, waiting to get the exact opposite of a protective lead apron. And, by the way, no stirrups. I don’t think I’ve ever put my feet in stirrups in my life. The British tend to favour knees up, feet together, let knees fall apart, allowing access to Precious. As it was, I got cramp in my left thigh and ended up having to hang my left leg off the enormously high bed, toes resting on a chair – luckily before anything serious got underway. I mean, it’s probably more dignified and leaves you feeling less vulnerable, but a stirrup would really stop foot-sliding-off-bed problems.
Incidentally, you guys all know what an HSG is, don’t you? I mean, I’m assuming you do. Anyone who doesn’t? Anyone? OK, very quickly, they squirt radioactive dye into your uterus and X-ray the results. Super-fun-time, yes? Indeedy. Only, you’re supposed to call it ‘contrast medium’ these days. And it is clear and colourless, like water. Only, sticky. Mmm. Nice.
Anyway, I reluctantly gave the nice warm speculum back. It was inserted (I always think I can feel a cold breeze up there when they open it up). And then the radiologist announced that I ‘would feel a sharp nip’ and I winced. Then I started cramping, and the Big Machine hanging over the high bed started to move down over my belly. I could see the image of my innards on the screen beside the bed. I looked rather sternly at that. Now, when you see images of the uterine interior in text-booky things, it’s a nice symmetrical wine-glass shape. Mine wasn’t. Mine was decidedly lopsided. Hmmm. Meanwhile, the cramping was no worse than dealable-with period pains, so I was managing the advised deep breathing. The radiologist squeezed more dye in, which stopped dead on the right side in a funny little bulge. Cramping pinches. Then, and I could swear I could feel the release of pressure, it spilled out the left-hand side.
The removal of the catheter hurt rather more than the insertion (but I managed not to yelp – go me!) and then I felt warm sticky pouring down my backside, which is just so, so, oh, the dignity. Not helped when the lovely radiologist starts wiping your bottom for you. She had me lie there for a few minutes while she went over the images with me, showing me the one fallopian tube (unexpectedly long and wiggly, and perfectly clear, so hurrah), the place on the other side where the dye got stopped as the tube had been removed. I looked dutifully, and wondered if the whole thing really was lop-sided and whether that was normal, not that she mentioned it, and I, in my usual hospital-induced colossal loss of IQ, didn’t ask. So far, so good.
And then she pointed out a strange bulge in the uterine lining just below the good fallopian tube.
‘This could be a fibroid or a polyp. If it’s a fibroid it’s probably small enough not to cause any problems, but if it’s a polyp, it might explain your dysfunctional bleeds, and it may well need to be removed. In any case, you’ll need further tests.’
I, predictably, said nothing.
‘When’s your next appointment with the specialist?’ she asked gently.
‘Next week,’ I managed to say. She patted my hand reassuringly.
And then, my plastic bag of clothes, a fresh sanitary towel, and a wad of paper shuffled off into the little lavatory next door to clean up and re-dress and enjoy the feeling of blood-stained contrast medium trickling out of me.
I felt OK, so H and I went home. I felt a little light-headed on the train, but that could have been from missing lunch, and rather crampy for the rest of the afternoon, but physically, OK. I think I’d even finished leaking dye by bed-time.
Emotionally, not so good.
In fact, H got home, made me the cup of tea I had been whining for all the way back, and flung himself into an arm-chair, complaining that he felt a cold coming on. I got my own lunch. And I think I made him more cups of tea that afternoon than he made me. And no, he wasn’t really ill. He felt better after having a mentholated sweet. And, being H, his method of supporting frazzled, restless, pacing wife is to let her watch whatever DVD she wants to watch and slump out of her way. I wanted a telepathic empath husband who would Just Know what I wanted and who would Just Know how I felt. And I felt somewhat torn between ‘I just knew, I knew, I KNEW there was something wrong in there. I knew it!’ and ‘Oh God there’s something wrong up there help help why me?’ and ‘See? No one listens to me. I said polyp to the gynaecologist, I did, Doctor Google is my friend and I said…’ and ‘Ow’.
By evening I was decidely grouchy. By bed-time I was very nearly back in Killer Bunny mode. And so we had a stupid argument about who said what to whom and when and why and whether and in any case, if you remember, that’s not what I meant.
H means well, I know. He is, however, incapable of telling how a person feels from those teensy external cues most humans use, you know, like the smiling, frowning, sighing and huffing and on bad days, sobbing and furniture-kicking. I eventually snapped and let him have it with both barrels – it’s all very well expecting me to get over myself and be Rational Adult and Explain Myself in short sentences with no metaphors or confusing retorical bits, but he can’t expect a, a, a kid, say, like the one I’m going through all this in hope of getting, while it is still under the age of three, to do the same. And then I shut myself up, because how many Taboos can one woman break in the same sentence? Emotionally blackmailing husband, mentioning future kids, telling H he mightn’t be Totally Superhero Fantastic Dad? May very bad. May sucks. Let’s all boo and hiss and point at May now.
H, of course, took it on the chin, said I had a point, and offered me a foot-rub.
When it comes to the subject of the Proper Care and feeding of Husbands, May is utterly bewildered.