A Little Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing

Apropos of the No Eggs! Cockerel Complex! whimpers that populated my previous post, Thalia comments:

Um. I assume you did either chemistry or biology o-level. And if you remember back to those days you’ll remember that UNITS are very important. And now if I tell you that UK measurements of E2 are made in pmol/litre and US units (and the charts which show normal levels) are shown in pg/ml, you’ll hopefully start to blush a little, then feel relieved. Divide 94 by 3.67 (see here http://www.globalrph.com/conv_si.htm) and you’ll get your actual level according to this chart (http://www.fertilityplus.org/faq/hormonelevels.html#female). 94/3.67=25.6 or NORMAL.

Now stop worrying. hahahahaha

Brains. The lovely lady haz dem in spades! And also, bloody Americans! If you hadn’t gone and DONE stuff back in 1775, and become this whole swanky World Power thing, we’d all be singing together uproariously from the same scientific hymn sheet right now – and I wouldn’t have had a sleepless night.

All this is precisely why Doctors cry and hammer their heads into the desk when their patients confidently pipe up with their self-diagnoses of beri-beri, leprosy or galloping dandruff. Although, they can’t entirely blame the phenomenon of internet…

Jerome K Jerome: Three Men In A Boat. Published 1889.

THERE were four of us – George, and William Samuel Harris, and myself, and Montmorency. We were sitting in my room, smoking, and talking about how bad we were – bad from a medical point of view I mean, of course.

We were all feeling seedy, and we were getting quite nervous about it. Harris said he felt such extraordinary fits of giddiness come over him at times, that he hardly knew what he was doing; and then George said that HE had fits of giddiness too, and hardly knew what HE was doing. With me, it was my liver that was out of order. I knew it was my liver that was out of order, because I had just been reading a patent liver-pill circular, in which were detailed the various symptoms by which a man could tell when his liver was out of order. I had them all.

It is a most extraordinary thing, but I never read a patent medicine advertisement without being impelled to the conclusion that I am suffering from the particular disease therein dealt with in its most virulent form. The diagnosis seems in every case to correspond exactly with all the sensations that I have ever felt.

I remember going to the British Museum one day to read up the treatment for some slight ailment of which I had a touch – hay fever, I fancy it was. I got down the book, and read all I came to read; and then, in an unthinking moment, I idly turned the leaves, and began to indolently study diseases, generally. I forget which was the first distemper I plunged into – some fearful, devastating scourge, I know – and, before I had glanced half down the list of “premonitory symptoms,” it was borne in upon me that I had fairly got it.

I sat for awhile, frozen with horror; and then, in the listlessness of despair, I again turned over the pages. I came to typhoid fever – read the symptoms – discovered that I had typhoid fever, must have had it for months without knowing it – wondered what else I had got; turned up St. Vitus’s Dance – found, as I expected, that I had that too, – began to get interested in my case, and determined to sift it to the bottom, and so started alphabetically – read up ague, and learnt that I was sickening for it, and that the acute stage would commence in about another fortnight. Bright’s disease, I was relieved to find, I had only in a modified form, and, so far as that was concerned, I might live for years. Cholera I had, with severe complications; and diphtheria I seemed to have been born with. I plodded conscientiously through the twenty-six letters, and the only malady I could conclude I had not got was housemaid’s knee.

I felt rather hurt about this at first; it seemed somehow to be a sort of slight. Why hadn’t I got housemaid’s knee? Why this invidious reservation? After a while, however, less grasping feelings prevailed. I reflected that I had every other known malady in the pharmacology, and I grew less selfish, and determined to do without housemaid’s knee. Gout, in its most malignant stage, it would appear, had seized me without my being aware of it; and zymosis I had evidently been suffering with from boyhood. There were no more diseases after zymosis, so I concluded there was nothing else the matter with me.

I sat and pondered. I thought what an interesting case I must be from a medical point of view, what an acquisition I should be to a class! Students would have no need to “walk the hospitals,” if they had me. I was a hospital in myself. All they need do would be to walk round me, and, after that, take their diploma. 

Then I wondered how long I had to live. I tried to examine myself. I felt my pulse. I could not at first feel any pulse at all. Then, all of a sudden, it seemed to start off. I pulled out my watch and timed it. I made it a hundred and forty-seven to the minute. I tried to feel my heart. I could not feel my heart. It had stopped beating. I have since been induced to come to the opinion that it must have been there all the time, and must have been beating, but I cannot account for it. I patted myself all over my front, from what I call my waist up to my head, and I went a bit round each side, and a little way up the back. But I could not feel or hear anything. I tried to look at my tongue. I stuck it out as far as ever it would go, and I shut one eye, and tried to examine it with the other. I could only see the tip, and the only thing that I could gain from that was to feel more certain than before that I had scarlet fever.

I had walked into that reading-room a happy, healthy man. I crawled out a decrepit wreck.

I went to my medical man. He is an old chum of mine, and feels my pulse, and looks at my tongue, and talks about the weather, all for nothing, when I fancy I’m ill; so I thought I would do him a good turn by going to him now. “What a doctor wants,” I said, “is practice. He shall have me. He will get more practice out of me than out of seventeen hundred of your ordinary, commonplace patients, with only one or two diseases each.” So I went straight up and saw him, and he said:

“Well, what’s the matter with you?”

I said:

“I will not take up your time, dear boy, with telling you what is the matter with me. Life is brief, and you might pass away before I had finished. But I will tell you what is NOT the matter with me. I have not got housemaid’s knee. Why I have not got housemaid’s knee, I cannot tell you; but the fact remains that I have not got it. Everything else, however, I HAVE got.”

And I told him how I came to discover it all.

Then he opened me and looked down me, and clutched hold of my wrist, and then he hit me over the chest when I wasn’t expecting it – a cowardly thing to do, I call it – and immediately afterwards butted me with the side of his head. After that, he sat down and wrote out a prescription, and folded it up and gave it me, and I put it in my pocket and went out.

I did not open it. I took it to the nearest chemist’s, and handed it in. The man read it, and then handed it back.

He said he didn’t keep it.

I said:

“You are a chemist?”

He said:

“I am a chemist. If I was a co-operative stores and family hotel combined, I might be able to oblige you. Being only a chemist hampers me.”

I read the prescription. It ran:

“1 lb. beefsteak, with
1 pt. bitter beer
every 6 hours.
1 ten-mile walk every morning.
1 bed at 11 sharp every night.
And don’t stuff up your head with things you don’t understand.”

I followed the directions, with the happy result – speaking for myself – that my life was preserved, and is still going on.

Very Nearly An Armful

I both love and hate the internet.

My consultant told me my day 3 blood tests were, and I quote, ‘normal’. I have therefore spent the last couple of days all Tra-la-la!-ish and not giving it another thought, until I have just now sat down to google the actual numbers involved, which I dutifully asked for and scribbled down.

FSH: 6 Good!

LH: 5 Better!

E2: 94 Not good. Not good at all. I’m now worried that the FSH figure is rendered meaningless, and that I am possessed of about as much future egg potential as the average cockerel.

Prolactin: 126do hope I have written this down wrong. I think I meant to write 26, which still seems the higher end of good.

SHBG: 27.1 The internet has no strong opinion on this.

Testosterone: 0.5 This seems awfully and suspiciously low. John has just rolled back from an infrequent trip down the local pub and, when I mournfully broadcasted this figure as being woefully insufficient, he nodded sagely and promptly and plaintively cited his sex life as also being woefully insufficient. Apparently, the two are linked.

Lastly, I have written ‘Thy’ which I suspect means thyroid stimulating hormone. I have 1.607 somethings of it, which is probably about normal.

I’m now attempting desperately to give brain space to the phrase ‘Diminished Ovarian Reserve’ in a way that doesn’t actually involve me chewing on furniture. Most of me is thinking that if my Beautiful Lady Consultant (Stunning. Face, figure, the lot. Obviously possessed of a simply humungous brain. And a kind, courteous person, too. Gah!) isn’t worried, then neither should I be. She impressed John and I once again – very much – and really, I just need to get off google and let her get on with it.

I told you that ‘it’ would likely take the form of knives or cameras: in fact, it will now involve both. Consultant number 1 will be driving cameras via my cervi (Cervixes? I’m never sure.) into both Cameron and Blair and zapping furiously away at anything adenomyosisy the cameras see, particularly this synechium thing, whilst Consultant number 2 (my previous Awfully Important chap, and apparently a particularly outstanding surgeon) will be slicing into me via the sunroof and having a good rummage about down the back of the sofa uteri for anything interesting. If they find any buried loose change, I must remind them that the landowner gets 50%.

They are, at my particular request, also going to have a look right behind my uteri, and see if I have any endometriosis sticking them to the front wall of my bowel. I’m royally fed up of sinking, cross-eyed in pain, to my knees and gasping like a gaffed fish every time I have concurrent lower-bowel peristalsis and a period. 

Surgery form

My surgery form highlights the fact that my BMI is 33 (I was slightly indignant about the upwards pointing arrow. It is exactly 33, thank you so very much. I feel the different ranks of Obese and Even Obeser need to be preserved here.) and that I will be in theatre for well over an hour. I’ve been knocked out by general anaesthetic a fair few times, but never for more than 30 minutes, so I expect John will be fielding the sick bowl on this occasion.

I was perfectly calm about it all until I spotted the bit about them requiring 2 units of blood. Eeek.

Beautiful Lady Consultant said two things to me that I had some difficulty processing:

Firstly, that ‘you have absolutely no problems with fertility at all.’ I was about to fall about laughing, until I grasped her meaning. I am, thus far, rather good at becoming pregnant, if an egg and a sperm are introduced into a candlelit womb and invited to slurp oysters together. I have never, in fact, failed to become pregnant from any finished course of treatment, and have managed to do so once from an unfinished course. My problem, of course, is that I refuse to either ovulate properly in the first place, or obligingly stay pregnant.

Secondly, she was sorting industriously through the towering piles of paper that constitute my notes, and pulled out a collection of scan photos. ‘Which pregnancy was this?’ she asked me, pointing to the date of January 2006. John and bickered conferred briefly, but could not decide whether it was the first or second IVF. ‘It was a twin pregnancy,’ she said, casting a quick upwards glance at me.

Which… is something I was never quite sure about. I had been told, albeit blurrily, in the midst of grinding pain, that they had seen a second sac, but this was during a scan the day after I had already miscarried, and I saw no further – evidence, shall we say? – over the next few days. So I had almost thought they were mistaken. But the photo BLC showed us was of two unmistakable pregnancy sacs, albeit collapsing, and I’m a bit confused how they missed telling me about this during earlier scans, although the evil was plenty sufficient to the day thereof in any case. I lie awake at night sometimes picturing these children of ours; these extinguished beginnings. Their sleeping faces, their soft limbs, their laughter. I’ve been counting three, and it should have been four.

She told me I had a month or so to get some blubber lost – not precisely her exact words – although I have been trying to get hold of their office all day to delay the scheduling more towards Christmas, as during November I will be flat-out working. Hopefully fat-out, too, but we shall see.

Of course, I’m now wondering whether delaying a whole extra month means wasting one of my puny number of remaining eggs.

*shakes head to dispel image of cavernously empty ovaries with a tiny handful of rice-sized eggs cowering, utterly endocrinally overcome, in the corner*

Lets talk about something else, hmmm?

I had a lovely surprise yesterday morning. Katie has knitted a beautiful, elegant and soft snuggler for me, as part of the Pay It Forward scheme, and my photo by no means does the fabulous knitwork justice. It even suits me! 


After admiring the workmanship, it occurred to me that I had actually better pull my finger out and get mine finished underway. So far I have stitched one (1) item of the three required, and not even completed the seams. Roll on the long winter nights, else they haven’t a snowball’s chance in hell.

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