Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Worst Beginning of the Beginning

For some reason I have decided to be more candid about my difficult experiences with infertility treatments. Maybe it is due to the amount of time that has passed. Some of my anger has subsided. I need the release. I want to help others by telling my stories.

This post is the beginning for me. A Pinker Shade of Pale is the middle. Unfortunately, I have many other installments. These chronicles are my Back-Dated Syllabus.

My stories are not just of the heartache of failed procedures but what I feel is a severe lack of good health care that led to an anger I have never felt in my life. My inability to conceive stamped a number on my forehead and any chance of personal care simply was not available in a place I was referred to by my entrusted doctor.

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I remember running up to my mother's office at my childhood home, a barely 26 year old newlywed, pointing to my abdomen.

"Mom, there might be a baby in there." All smiles. She was beaming too as we lingered in the excitement. My mom's baby might be having a baby.

My period was late but a blood test confirmed that I was not pregnant. My GYN gave me meds to induce my period.

Another month went by and my period did not come. I bought a home pregnancy test- negative. There were tears in my eyes then. Over five years later I look back at that young woman and wish I could have prepared her for the devastating struggle that lay ahead.

"Oh, honey you can cry now, but prepare yourself for buckets of salty tears. Thousand of used tissues, weeks of crying yourself to sleep. Be strong. This is only the beginning."

Again I took a blood test that came back negative. My doctor called me in for a visit.

"You may not be ovulating. You could have Poly cystic Ovarian Syndrome, but you do not seem to have any of the side effects."

"What are they?" I asked. As she listed them off, I nodded in agreement. Oily skin- check. Acne- check. "Extra" facial hair- check. My symptoms were minimal compared to others but they were there- no refuting them.

"Well, you may need to take a drug to help you ovulate in order to conceive. I may need to refer you to a fertility specialist for this, but you will be fine. You are so young."

Upon leaving her office I was confused and nervous. Driving home with this new terminology in my head and the thought that I needed help to get pregnant was quite disturbing. Shit, I was used to taking meds for depression. Why wouldn't I need more help in my life? There sprouted the seed of bitterness that would eventually explode into an uncontrollable, weed and grub infested garden of shame, anger, sadness, and disappointment.

The doctor said there were a few things that should be done right away- further testing.

She mentioned a "dye test" which is of coarse, the HSG or hysterosalpingogram.

"We should check to make sure your tubes are not blocked before moivng onto Chlo.mid or any other drug to help you ovulate. We will set it up for 3 weeks from now."

The check-up appointment before the HSG procedure was done by another doctor covering for my GYN. Lost in translation were good, clear instructions on what was going to occur during the exam. I was told the date and where to be and that was it.

I remember thinking it was weird that I was to meet my doctor at the hospital instead of her office. At that time I had no experience being in a hospital for any sort of procedure. I was the person that passed out when giving blood.

After checking in with the secretary, I was informed to go to the locker room, take off all my clothes and put on a hospital gown and wait in a separate area for the doctor to come and get me. I sat on a cold plastic chair, the paper thin gown barely covering by backside and legs; a few people came in and out of the room. I waited for about 25 minutes, and with the passing of every minute I became all the more nervous. My stomach began to turn and I felt sweaty. The discomfort of being practically naked in a stark, freezing room all alone, and the fear of the unknown made me want to leave.

My doctor popped her head in the waiting room and brought me to a room with an x-ray machine and a bed with the dreaded stirrups.

"Did you take any ibuprofen before coming here?"

"No. No one told me I should."

"Oh, I'm sorry. Let me see if I can get you some."

Turns out she was not allowed to give me anything because there was no prescription for the drugs. She went on to explain that there would be some cramping and pressure. Being naive and equating the feeling to a pap smear, I thought I knew what pain to expect, and so we continued on with the test.

A nurse came in the room to help with the procedure. She became the one holding my hands as I screamed in pain. I had never felt pain like that before. My body was writhing in agony and the first x-ray did not work. The doctor told me to lay on my side to get a better picture and the tears were pouring out of my eyes. The screams of pain came from deep inside; I could not have controlled it if I tried. I was squeezing the nurses hand and she was rubbing my forehead saying it will be over soon.

Finally the pain ceased. I lay there with bloodshot eyes, no energy, a shell of the person who walked in the room 15 minutes prior.

I left the room, knees shaking and slowly walked to the locker room to dress myself. I was in a daze. I drove home alone. I cried all the way back to work.

After an hour I felt somewhat normal. It was over. The results came in that everything was fine with my tubes. This led me to believe that things were going to be okay. This was to be the only "good news" I would receive during four years of ART.

At this point my GYN shipped me off to the fertility clinic. Explaining that she would see me when I got pregnant, I believed her.

She would never see me again.

She would only hear from me again through a carefully composed letter. One I hoped she would read over and over and over.

20 comments:

Kymberli said...

I find myself fending off tears after having read this. Though you're now far beyond where you were when you had to experience this, I wish that I could reach back in time and offer you a hug.

Lisa said...

I too wish I could travel back and give a big hug that young, wistful woman. But I see so many glimpses of her strength, hope, courage and faith in the woman she is today.

The woman today is taking her horrendous struggles and turning them into a place to assist others with the same challenges.

The woman today is a mother, not by the means she may have imagined back then, but a joyful, loving & thankful Mama all the same!

The woman today offers her story to help others....she tells her story to heal.

*hugs* to both woman

Missy said...

Thanks for sharing your story. You have come so far from the woman portrayed in this post. I hope I can find similar strength.

Amy said...

Looking back at our innocent selves can be so heartbreaking. Seeing that young woman who has so much Hope inside and has no idea the number of tears her eyes will cry .... just breaks my heart every time.

Thank you for sharing the beginning of your story with us.

Leah said...

Thank you for being so honest about your struggles.

La loca said...

Gracias por compartir...it's such a hard thing to go through...and we usually do it alone, which makes it even harder. I remember my drive home, alone, and crying desperately. You are so brave to actually write it down for others to see. I'm sure it'll help somebody not to be so naive about all these procedures we go through.

Kristin said...

Oh hon, what a horrible thing to go into with no warning whatsoever. I so desperately want to comfort the you from the past.

Stephanie Faris said...

Wow. Yes, it's really tough. I had a miscarriage, then dealt with an inability to conceive for a couple of years. I ended up going through a divorce that stopped my attempts and now I'm 39 and my boyfriend doesn't really want more children...so I'm gradually accepting I'll never be a mom but sometimes I cry over what might have been.

tireegal68 said...

Thanks so much for this and the other posts. I could not get to Part2 - the link didn't work.
You are a courageous woman and I hope you told those doctors and nurses where they could put their so called bedside manners! Thankyou. (((((hugs))))))
yeah, never such innocence again:( but wisdom and experience and strength.

Yaya said...

(((Hugs)))

I can't stand when people say 'you're still young, it'll all be fine'. That line drives me nuts.

I just had my 4th HSG last month. I hate those things.

Lavender Luz said...

HSGs suck.

The end.

Christa said...

I absolutely HATE the comment "You're so young" with every fiber of my being. I was diagnosed with PCOS when I was 21 and immediately started trying for a family. The doctors always gave me that flippant response whenever I failed a cycle. I am now 28 years old and still no child to show for it. I wonder what they would say now!

Lynn said...

I could feel your agony while reading this! I'm so sorry for what you've been through. I will say that the past has made you a stronger individual and thank you for sharing the beginning of your journey.

The Busters said...

The HSG was awful. I luckily had a technician that was an angel and an incredible comfort to me. I should try and find her and thank her. I cry when I think of her and how kind she was. It is amazing what a difference that can make. Reading these posts is very much a comfort to my past self. Thank you for sharing! - Emily B.

Miriam said...

This is so powerful. Thank you for sharing.

MK said...

I'm new to your blog but this is a very courageous post. Thank you for sharing your story.

Quiet Dreams said...

HSGs are horrible. I also went alone to mine and regretted it.

So weird to think of ourselves at the beginning of the IF fight. So much has been learned.

Feeling Fit With Dana said...

Oh my, this is hard to read so I can't even imagine what you went through. I know that no words can erase what is done, but I will keep you in my prayers!

Stopping by from SITS.

Jeanne said...

Erica,

I will never forget the pain of my hysterosalpingogram. It was excruciating. I was not advised to take anything for pain either. I was totally unprepared for how painful it would be.

In my case, the HSG didn't go "the way it's supposed to". Neither tube showed up at all. So they kept using more and more dye... far more than they usually do. I was in agony.

The test went on much longer than it typically does because of this. I believe I was in there for a good 45 minutes.

I too drove myself home alone. I had been given no reason to believe that I should bring someone with me.

I was in my early 20s and very scared that neither tube showed up.

A week later, I had another laparoscopy for my previously diagnosed endometriosis. My tubes were fine!

When I asked why neither tube had shown up when the radiologist had given me so much dye during the HSG, my doctor said the only explanation he could think of is that both of my tubes were spasming when they did the HSG. That might explain some of the nauseating pain I had.

Thank you for sharing your story. It pains me when medical professionals minimize what to expect pain-wise and fail to warn people of what to reasonably expect with procedures like this.

Jeanne

5thsister said...

Found you from SITS and just read this story. Yes, I remember that pain. It was so bad that my blood pressure bottomed out and my heart rate soared. I had to "recover" for awhile before I was in any shape to drive home.

I am sorry you are going through this. Just curious: Did you blog about the letter you sent to the GYN?

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