See yourself as others see you, dislike it intensely

So. HSG 2. That is what we are here to talk about today.

I took the day off work. H took the morning off work.

Get up at normal time. Drink tea. Trim away all personal fun-fur longer than 5 mm. I have a good horror story about a very nice young nurse doing my smear test several years ago and not realising she had carefully wound a tuft of said personal fun-fur into the screw of the speculum until she attempted to remove it and I’m not sure I can say for whom the subsequent five minutes were the more painful and embarrassing. Shower. Dress. Eat breakfast. Take first of week’s course of oral antibiotics. Nip round corner to GP to book afternoon appointment. Return home. Retreat to bathroom with the other antibiotic. Wash hands. Refuse to fart. Farting not advisable. Clench.

We went down to the Hospital Out In The Country together, bright sunshine, me fussing and wittering about being late the entire way, and naturally we were early. This was just as well, as despite my preventatory phone-calling earlier in the week, I was faced with sweet but dim receptionist who simply couldn’t deal with the fact that I had two appointments, that I had once been misspelt but the misspelling had since been corrected, and that my name was not the misspelt version even though the hand-writing on one of the forms seemed to imply it was. I smiled and smiled and smiled. And explained. And smiled. And was eventually rescued by a nurse, who briskly logged me in and pointed out to the receptionist I was supposed to be having two appointments at once.

Then I did my Official Pee In A Pot for the Official Daft Pointless But Official pregnancy test, and then went through my history with the nice nurse in an office marked ‘barium meal recovery’ while my pee-stick matured. No, of course they didn’t know I had had a miscarriage. They didn’t even know I’d had several ultrasounds in the next-door suite. If departments can’t share notes it’s no wonder hospitals can’t. Explained all the above, and entirely expected absence of left ovary and fallopian tube, and heart-shape of Cute Ute, also entirely expected. I was then given horrible yellow hospital gowns to change into (and I kept my boots on, which looked Really Glamorous) and parked in the corridor with H for twenty minutes.

The nurse eventually called me back to the barium recovery room to meet the radiologist, and it was the same very nice radiologist as last time, and I had to go through my noted again, interesting that endless repetition of the facts does not inure me to them. Radiologist sympathetic and commented that I ‘had been through the wars’, which made me feel both grateful and very self-conscious. I then solemnly promised that I had not had sex AT ALL since my period (which is… perfectly true, but it not to say H and I have been keeping our hands off each other *snigger snigger*) and signed a document to this effect so it’s all my fault if there’s any fault to be sharing out later.

I had the ultrasound in the same room as the HSG, and the ultrasound was fine, nothing interesting or amusing or astonishing, Satsuma looking sleepy and polycystic as usual. Radiologist insistent on making small talk about my knitting (I was wearing hand-made socks, very cute ones if I say so myself). It is very ODD, making small talk with a person who has just stuck a, well, a stiff rod, up you and is now staring intently at your ovary.

The HSG itself was much a repeat of last time. It stung when the catheter went in, the pumping in of the dye was not much fun at all, but my period pain is worse, so I breathed slowly and deeply as I was told to and was praised for being good and relaxed, while the X-Ray machine beeped and jolted back and forth just over my belly. The really owie bit is the removal of all the assorted gubbins, but that only takes a few seconds. Afterwards, I felt a little sick and rather crampy, and it occurred to me that last time I had taken ibuprofen an hour before the procedure, and this time I had forgotten to, more fool me.

I sat on the end of the bed, sticky dye trickling out of me onto the paper towels, while the radiologist showed me my insides. Cute Ute very decidedly heart-shaped inside, and it is indeed cute, and not showing any other weird bulges or irregularities at all. Missing left-hand fallopian tube turned out to be rather longer than expected, though still blocked and lacking its distal end. Hmm. Pointless information, but one’s own insides endlessly fascinating.

She was a good deal less happy with the ‘good’ tube. It wasn’t blocked, but it was rather distended, and the word ‘hydrosalpinx’ was mentioned. And then I wasn’t happy either. Of course, I have to wait and hear what Miss Consultant says. Last time, back in Spring 2007, the HSG showed a mild hydrosalpinx (and polyps, now removed, and a ‘fibroid’ that turned out to be just the Cute Ute being cute) that some consultant or other decided was Not A Problem, and, indeed, it wasn’t, as I have since had an intrauterine pregnancy, go me. So, this could either be the same irrelevantly mild hydrosalpinx, and we can go back to ignoring it. Or it could be worse. And if it’s worse…

The radiologist started telling me all about IVF and wasn’t it grand that there was a remedy for damaged tubes these days? – which rather heavily implies that she at least thought it was worse, shit shit shit shit shit – and lost quite a lot of brownie points by doing so, as, really, I get ONE go, maybe, at IVF and that not until March 2010 and we can’t afford to go private and what are we supposed to do for a year and a bit? Carry on bonking in hope of a miracle? Not bonk in fear of an ectopic? Get cats? Join the Foreign Legion?

Anyway. When we got home I called Miss Consultant’s secretary to say I’d had the HSG done, so Miss Consultant can examine the result and let us know whether we carry on to Clomid 4 – Oh, For Fuck’s Sake, or come to a grinding screeching halt at Your-Tubes-Suck, Much-Wailing-in-the-Marsh.

On trudging home with H, with a face like a week of wet Wednesdays, I remarked that I couldn’t think of a single good reason why I shouldn’t go to bed with a bucket of icecream. H hugged me. He hopped off the bus at the supermarket to get some more milk for my tea, and I went on home alone as I felt too crampy and peeved for supermarkets. So H got in 15 minutes after me, bearing milk and, oh, bless him, Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie icecream to keep me company while he went to work for the afternoon. There are times when the dairy avoidance thing can cheerfully go fuck itself.

Afternoon further weirded out by appointment with GP, to ask if he could refer me to infertility/miscarriage counselling. Had to repeat sorry history not only of Pikaia, but also of years trying, and also of previous depressive episodes in teens and in early twenties, which made my eyes and nose prickle and voice wobble impressively. GP very very kind, and very eager to get me referred as soon as possible so I could have some ‘decent support and coping strategies’, so it was actually a very satisfactory experience and he will call me back on Tuesday with referral details as he will have spoken to the mental health team by then. Nevertheless, feeling of shame and squashed cock-roachness overwhelmed me on realising I had been crying in GP’s office and actually asking for mental health assistance, and GP had taken this seriously instead of telling me to pull my socks up, which was vaguely offensive somehow – do you mean I really AM a mess? How dare you! – and went home feeling deeply, deeply pissed off with universe. Bloody depression. Damn it for not only making me sad, but making me feel bad about feeling sad.

Have eaten some ice-cream. Will spend evening cathartically bawling eyes out at Children in Need and eating more icecream. Can’t drink because of antibiotics.

Sodding fallopian tube. Sodding uncertainty. I really DO need a drink and all.


8 responses to “See yourself as others see you, dislike it intensely

  • Hairy Farmer Family

    First off, I will admit to avoiding Children in Need like a particularly virulent plague. I cry at the least little thing these days, and CIN would probably push me into brain-melt-migraine territory. Alternately giggling and groaning in front of Four Weddings instead.

    Sodding Uncertainty indeed. Needless to say I am rooting heavily for mildest-hydrosalpinx-ever that is absolutely no worse at all from last scan. The embryo (coz I’m certain there’ll be one along shortly) will positively luge around the bend and hit the endometrium with an added centrifugal thud and promptly become as embedded as a student on a sunday morning.

    And another thing. As soon as we told parents that we probably required IVF, both sets immediately proffered cash. It wasn’t required, as it happens, but apparently even the crustiest parent does not like to see their child barred from breeding grandchildren by filthy lucre. They didn’t even blink when we told them it was a few thousand quid for a fresh cycle. I’m not saying I’ve spoken to your Mum, mind you! I would hate to offer groundless reassurances. I’m just saying that if it does actually come to IVF, you never know – you might end up being able to cycle sooner than you expected.

    Your GP sounds like a sensible chap. I know it’s disconcerting when someone actually takes you at your own emotional valuation – it does tend to give added conviction to one’s tormented mitherings. A sock-pulling lecture would not have been helpful of him, regardless of how depressed you sounded to him though, sweetie. Post-miscarriage depression is as clinically prevalent as post-natal depression, and yet no bugger ever talks about it. And yes, you’re down, but you’re SO not a mess. I don’t think you could be a mess if you tried your absolute hardest, and ate the whole Ben & Jerry’s range in one sitting. But you do need some support. Husbands are great, and friends can be great, and the innernets always listen. But a good counsellor kicks ass. Wish you lived near me & I could lend you mine.

    Can I bring lichen-covered chocolate, or has Aphra been round already?

  • Mrs.X

    What a terrible, horrible, rotten day you’ve had, my dear. Dairy and alcohol are most certainly called for. But, can I say how proud I am of you? You reached out for help to your GP which was a great thing and you shared with all of us what a hard time you’re having so that we can help you too.

    My first HSG was also a nightmare. I was told that both of my tubes were blocked and my only options were IVF or surgery. This was on the phone. By a nurse. Ouch. I was so incredibly discouraged, angry and sad. It was my first real inkling that we had problems that while fixable, were still pretty damn daunting. So, I know how you feel.

    Rest, read, focus your mind on other things and you will get the perspective that you need to see the path forward. And remember, just because something appears to be f*cked up, doesn’t necessarily mean that it is.

  • Christina

    Perhaps I am being presumptuous to ask, but have you looked into any alternative therapies for the issues you’re having? I know that Chinese medicine, acupuncture and herbs can often work wonders where Western medicine fails so dismally. I’ve had a bit too much experience on both sides of the coin. Drop me an e-mail if you’re interested in some book or website referrals…


  • geohde

    Ack, May.

    Fingerscrossedfingerscrossedfingersdrossed that tube is neither hydro or salpinx…


  • Aphra Behn

    Hairy Farmer Family, I adore you. You say the things I don’t know to say. And one can never have too much chocolate covered lichen. … How about chocolate and lichen ice cream? It could be Ben and Jerry’s I Scream. Maybe not.

    May darling, there’s a difference between being clinically depressed because of random chemicals doing shit in your head, and being miserable as buggery because life sucks. And both of those are different again from being a self-indulgent drama queen. You are having a perfectly sane and sensible reaction to life sucking great big hairy vacuum-cleaners. And yes, it is disconcerting that the doctor agrees. But bless that doctor.

    On another subject entirely. Is it me, or does the phrase “coping strategy” sound vaguely oxymoronic?


  • MsPrufrock

    Haha, funny. Your reaction to your GP’s verdict is *exactly* the sort of thing I would think. However, I have a GP that despite a breakdown in her office, did not hook me up with such a service. She mentioned that counselling was an option, but when I went back a few months later saying that it was required as I was an anxious, depressed ball of impending madness, I was told to take a walk or read a book. Again.

    Wait, what was I just saying about the fabulousness of the NHS in my previous comment?

    I have managed to make this all about me again. Jesus. I’m such a comment narcissist.

  • piquantmolly

    Shit. Nothing like a shitty HSG to make your day. I’ve had one myself — with decidedly abnormal results, much like yours. Fun times.

  • Katie

    I mean to reply but clearly am losing it, as usual. I know that even for people who’ve had an ectopic the advice is carry on trying, so I’m sure that would be fine with you.

    I can just see my family (and have read your other post too) rushing round to offer IVF money which is why we keep saying to them IT WOULDN’T HELP.

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