Friday, October 25, 2013

20 Minutes of Discomfort (she could have at least bought me dinner first)

Disclaimer: I have no qualms about sharing very personal details. The purpose of this blog, aside from my own need for it, is to be a support to other same-sex couples going through the process. If an anxious woman can get some sense of what to expect, or just find comfort in someone else's sharing of their real experience, both the good and the ugly, then I will be happy. There's no point to me in having this blog if I just offer pretty summaries. So if you are not a fan of TMI, here's your warning.

My fertility doctor told me to go for the ultrasound to assess my cyst as soon as I started my next period. My last period was two weeks late, which has never happened before, so it threw me off in my counting. I tracked from that period, which would put me at my next one around Halloween. However, I guess because that one was late, my body was off, and it came a full week earlier than I'd expected.

I woke up Wednesday thinking, "Oh no. Not today. I have too much going on today to call out sick and go into a radiologist. It was supposed to happen next week! I kept those days clear of anything necessary! Today I have a meeting that MUST happen by the end of the month, and I know one of the participants has no other flexibility before then. And I'm scheduled as the closing supervisor, so I'd have to call around for someone to cover for me. Maybe Nicole can drop me off at the radiologist first thing in the morning and then I can take a cab to the train and maybe, just maybe, still make it for my 11:00 meeting. Oh why today!!"

Oh little baby, you are but a twinkle in your mama's eye and you are already giving me a lesson on sacrificing for you and on accepting what little control I have when it comes to you. There is no such thing as perfect planning - life has a mind of its own, and is not concerned with my schedule!

It ends up that there were no available appointments before Friday morning, so all of that went out the window and I had no choice but to wait until two days into my period. I was signed up for the Third Annual Transgender Conference in Manhattan for Friday and was bummed about not being able to go, but knew it would be far from ideal to wait until Monday - plus, Monday was another crazy day that I didn't know how I'd get out of. The world wouldn't end if I couldn't go to the conference.

I followed the instructions on my referral to a tee: empty my bladder an hour and a half before the appointment, and then drink 48 oz. of water. (I have a small bladder capacity, plus I'd had caffeine that morning, so I drank 24 to keep from bursting.) My appointment was at 1:30 and was less than five minutes from Nicole's office, so I swung by her a little after 12:00 for a lunch date. What a treat!!

When I signed in, the receptionist asked if I'd drunk water, and I said I had. Then I gave her my referral, and she looked at it and said, "Oh, you didn't need to do that for this. Go use the bathroom if you want!" I happily obliged. Then the radiology tech came to get me as I was leaving the bathroom and said, "Oh, you emptied your bladder? It'd be ideal to have it full, but that's okay." Gar!!!

After already having had a Pap smear and an "initial consultation" transvaginal sonogram, I was more comfortable getting into position in the stirrups. Still a little awkward, of course, but it was my third time in less than a month!

The tech started with an external pelvic exam. It was strange to have ultrasound gel rubbed over my empty abdomen - not an experience I associate with non-pregnancy. She pressed around for quite a while, and then proceeded to do the transvaginal sonogram. The fertility doctor had had the wand in me in a second like a boss, but the tech slid it slowly down the outside and told me to tell her when it was in position so she could push it in. AWKWARD. I said, "I think you're there. I'm married to a woman, so I'm not used to these instructions." She blinked.

The internal exam seemed to last FOREVER. It had to be at least 20 minutes, possibly longer, and felt like an hour. I felt it only mildly for a good 80% of it, and my mind would actually drift to mundane things. Then there would be a lot of pressure and discomfort and I'd watch my breathing the way I've been learning to do in our five-part meditation series at temple, in an effort to stay calm and kind of dissociate. We tie the weekly Torah portions into the meditation, so I focused on that imagery. "Ow ow ow Abraham sitting in the opening of his tent. Ow ugh ow Noah floating at sea with no control just letting the waves move him." I wonder what my rabbi would think about this first experience of using the practice outside of the classes!

When the tech made conversation with me, she was sweet and encouraging about the fact that I was doing this as a precursor to fertility treatment. She said, "so you want to have a baby, how exciting!" Then after the exam, after she'd given the pictures to a doctor for approval that she'd gotten everything she needed, I swear she gave me a super sympathetic look as she said goodbye. Like a sad "Good luck with everything." It really made me apprehensive. Clearly she would have a pretty good idea of what she was seeing, but there had been a large sign on the wall that said, "Technicians are not at liberty to discuss results with patients," and I had respected that. So now I have to wait up to a week for my fertility doctor to get the results and call me. I don't anticipate much more than, "Yep, big fat cyst, that bad boy's gotta go. When do you want to schedule the surgery?" But the tech's mannerisms with me at the end really threw me for a loop and made me a bit anxious.

Luckly, I'm a pretty go-with-the-flow personality. Nothing I can do til I hear from my doctor, and fearing the worst or hypothesizing what unlikely things could be happening is not my style. It certainly won't help or change anything.

So now we wait.


  1. Could they tell anything about the tube from this appt? I know when my doc mentioned it, he said he'd check it in surgery while looking for endometriosis, but I thought you said something before about maybe them being able to see it at this appt? Also, speaking of endo, will your doc look for that/remove it while in there if you have surgery? Your chances of having it are unfortunately high and can prevent conception, but removing it gives a really good chance of conception in *I think* the first 6 mo after removal.

    1. My chances of having endo are high?? What would make you say that? My doctor didn't even mention that as something she may be concerned about or suspect.

      I've heard the cyst surgery is laparascopic so I don't know if they would do anything else in there. Also, yes, they could tell whatever they needed to about the cyst and tube in this appointment, but there was a big sign that said "technicians are not at liberty to discuss results." They're just providing the results to my doctor to discuss with me. She said to call her in a week if I haven't heard from her. So I won't know anything til then.

    2. Sorry, didn't mean to freak you out! It's that basically EVERY woman on mom's side had/has endometriosis, though most of them never had a formal diagnosis, but all had/have textbook symptoms. I don't know if it's the same now, but I remember you used to have really heavy, painful periods which can be a sign of it. They all just ended up with hysterectomies because unfortunately treatment (surgery to remove it) wasn't nearly as available then as it is now. My doctor suspected it with me, even though I didn't have the symptoms, due to family history and continued infertility even with the clomid. So you may very well NOT have it, but I would hate for them to go in there for the tube stuff and not check that out, and then that's a problem later, you know? Maybe just worth mentioning? It was all going to be laproscopic for me so it wouldn't be any more invasive than the cyst thing.

    3. Heavy, yes, but never painful. I feel almost nothing except for maybe one day that is slightly uncomfortable, and almost never to the point of needing to take Midol or anything. But the family history and the heaviness/duration of it does indeed put me at higher risk so I'll mention that to my doctor. I didn't know women in my family had this issue or I would have put that on my paperwork at the clinic.