I wandered away from the internets for a few days, not for any particular reason as such. I just… wandered off. I was doing things like ‘watching Wimbledon’ and ‘seeing friends’. It was intense, dudes. (No it wasn’t).
So, there was that Important and Scary (hell yes, I was scared) appointment with Highly Recommended Doctor Expensive. I was going to tell you about that. Hello! This is me telling you about that.
I managed to give myself the yips while sorting through and putting-in-date-order all my infertility and RPL paperwork to date. Every few minutes sheets of hospital discharge notes and letters CC’d to my GP would fountain from my lap accompanied by a Swearing Voluntary in F Major. My God, Gentle Readers, it was depressing. All that happened to me? Why? (Answer sadly presents itself as, whyever not?).
But having all the results and letters with me, in date order, was invaluable in Dr Expensive’s office, as he fired questions at me – ‘Have you done this? Why? And this? Why not?’ – and flipping through them so I could hand him pages of results in a matching brisk manner was infinitely preferable to, say, crying. Which I was tempted to do.
(Not that Dr Expensive was unkind. And frankly, briskness and matter-of-factness are very much the best strategy for me, because sympathy and concern, while very welcome, make me wail and then the ‘extracting vital information’ part of an appointment gets derailed and I have a fit of rage in a coffee-shop later. Derailed! And no answers! Aigh!)
In short order, Dr Expensive considered my AMH, FSH and estradiol tests of times gone by, and decided they needn’t be retested as yet; took on board that my uterine cavity, remaining fallopian tube and only ovary were in good nick; discussed my miscarriage history (I may have got miscarriages two and five the wrong way round, but as they were both chemicals, I don’t care); and then drew diagrams all over a prescription pad to try and explain how sometimes the embryo is too similar, genetically, to the mother, whose immune system then attacks it, thinking it’s a tumour, and other times the embryo is too different, because the woman is basically allergic to her partner’s DNA, so the immune system attacks it, and then sometimes there are infections or auto-immune problems that make the uterine lining hostile, and sometimes the man can have a lingering infection that shatters the DNA in his semen, even though he’s producing normal amounts of normal looking sperm, and then there’s the treatments, which involve anything from steroids and IViG or Intralipids, to injecting the woman with donor leucocytes, to donor sperm and/or eggs, and H and I looked at each other in shell-shock also bewilderment, because on top of all this jargon being fired at us, Dr Expensive has a marked accent and I was missing one word in five. And being nervous, I was speaking in my best Well-Brought-Up-Mouse voice, so one word in ten was one or other of us saying ‘pardon?’
Dr Expensive announced a suite of tests he thought we should do first. We nodded. We has been expecting tests. Blood tests. A few vials each. Right? We were ready for that. But no! First, Dr Expensive wanted me to strip off so he could collect a vaginal smear (wut?) to test it for chlamydia/gonorrhea/mycoderma (i.e. bacterial vaginosis). OK. I pointed out I was still menstruating just a little, and he assured me this was not a problem (is it not? For whom is it not?), so I meekly went behind the screen in the corner and removed my trousers, knickers, and tampon, which I wrapped in about three square feet of paper towel before putting in the bin. So that made me feel Extremely Self-Conscious. and, oh, the table had stirrups! You don’t normally get stirrups on the NHS! Luxury! But of course, because I’ve never used them before, I couldn’t work out how in hey I was supposed to get my feet in them, so that was not comfortable. And then Dr Expensive snapped on his latex gloves and poked at me with an elongated cotton bud. And it hurt. For a few very unpleasant seconds I thought he’d stuck the thing up my urethra, but then it scraped at a slightly different angle and I thought, no, wait, that’s where I thought it ought to go, and then he removed it smudged with blood, so I decided I’d go to the loo as soon as I could, and if I peed red, I’d march into his office and shriek, and if I didn’t, I’d put the whole thing down to the adenomyosis and suck it up.
(Pee was fine. We’re blaming Cute Ute, also possible bad angle of entry, which mystifies me, because surely Dr Expensive has done hundreds of these, and my anatomy is very normal in that regard, or did he mean to collect a sample from there too and I simply didn’t understand what he was saying? Because what just happened?)
Anyway, that was unexpected.
Even more unexpected, Dr Expensive told H to provide a semen sample. H blenched. Dr Expensive explained, to test for chlamydia and/or other infections, and to test for DNA fragmentation (we had the results of previous SAs with us, and H’s count and motility and morphology have always been normal). The DNA test would have to be done between two to five days since last ejaculation…? H delicately made it known that in that case the DNA one could not be done right then, possibly breathing a sigh of relief, but Dr Expensive shrugged and told him to provide a sample just for the infection test and come back later to do the other one, so H blenched again.
Then H and I went back to the waiting room and let the nice lady at the reception desk do something horrendous to our credit card, in exchange for which we were given a form each, a large padded envelope, and instructions to go just down the street to the lab, where we could be relieved of our bodily fluids.
The lab was very smart, with stylish sofas, and fascinatingly mixed clientele. I was called through in minutes, and a nimble-fingered man took seven vials of my blood in very short order, and while he was doing so, my vaginal smear was brought over by the clinic staff, practically lying on a cushion of state, which was unnerving. And then I went back to the waiting room, where H no longer was, and sat knitting and staring into space for a while.
H eventually reappeared, looking faintly sheepish, and we sidled out into the sunlight to hunt for coffee.
‘So, H, tell me about the wankatorium,’ I hissed as soon as we were more than a few yards from any other humans. And bless him, he did.
They took his blood first (five vials (I lose! Five vials and a pot beats seven vials and a poke with a sharp stick!)), which we decided on balance was a good thing, because trying to, err, while knowing They Are Waiting For You With Needles is probably more off-putting than having to, err, in your own time even with a fresh needle-mark (H does not like needles). Then he was handed a pot instructions (instructions? Who doesn’t know how to, err…) and ushered into a small room containing item, a doctor’s couch covered in paper from those giant rolls; item, a sink; and item, a small side-table with a drawer.
‘Ooh! Ooh! Was there porn? What was it like?’ I interjected with unseemly curiosity.
Yes, in the drawer, were two folders. The first folder contained magazines for men! Who! Like! Men! Yes! And were pleased to see them! I have to say, this information delighted me. I like an equal opportunities clinic, so I do. H, however, doesn’t like men in quite that way, so he put that folder back and took out the next one, which did indeed contain Naked Ladies. Unhelpful naked ladies. How where the ladies unhelpful, I asked, boggling. Well, said H, either their breasts looked plastic and fake or their genitals did. It wasn’t particularly inspiring.
By this time I was unhelpfully giggly, of course.
‘And,’ said H, woebegone, ‘There was a huge picture on one wall of a beautiful landscape. Which would have been nice and soothing, only…’
‘It was of the area where your Dad lives.’
[Discussion of the rest of the tests tomorrow. Because I've just noticed it's past midnight, is why].