I Did Not See This Coming

We were criminally misled. There was no ‘So! You’ve Finally Discovered Your Bits Are Broken!’ video. My disappointment was acute. All there was, was a dozen couples escorted in a subdued troop to the seminar room upstairs, and shown a 5 minute powerpoint presentation detailing, word for word, the first two pages of the IUI info booklet we’d just been given.  The other couples were so big-eyed and attentive in humbling contrast to my wandering, jaundiced stare. 

After we were herded en masse back down to reception to await our individual nurse information sessions, I surveyed our fellow IUI runners and riders. Their average age – unsurprisingly, as IUI is generally the first port of treatment call – was rather younger than I normally see in this clinic waiting room: early thirties, or a little less. We were the last couple called, so I counted them all out, and I counted them all back in (RIP Brian, btw). I observed their responses to the nurses’ call: flurries of recalcitrant, half-completed paperwork (Reams of it we were given. Reams.) and urgently instructed legs (what IS it about the British Waiting Room that we must virtually run, simply because someone is standing in a doorway with a clipboard, politely calling our name?) on their way to their clinic session; emerging once more, self-consciously clutching, or nonchalantly swinging, their injection and sharps kitbag, moving towards the exit with a noticeably more purposeful look to their stride.

I remember my first departure from that building, with my injection kit tucked satisfactorily under my arm. Early 2005, I suppose it would have been. I can’t swear to the date, even to the nearest season, but the sensation of a bright sun on my face (Metaphorically? Literally? I cannae remember!) is strong: progress, I certainly felt, was finally being made.

Good manners, coupled to a respect for the beginning of their individual journeys, along with a fair dollop of self-ridicule, all rather dictated against permitting my self-constructed image of Jaded Veteran to become fully formed, let alone become flesh: I sternly guarded against Seasoned Sophisticate as my body language of choice, although my inner Patronising Elder Stateswoman was admittedly attempting to smoke a Gitane. Through a holder. 

In this Tatooine Cantina of hope & despair, I felt a world-weary Han Solo to their fresh-faced Luke Skywalker.  I deserved a smart smack of surprise around the chops, I really did. Fortuitous, because I totally copped one.

Our nurse was a delightful lady, who, speaking of deserving, did not deserve me for a patient that morning. Her opening remark was ‘Do you have any questions?’

I suppressed my rejoinder – ‘No, but you will have, shortly!’ – and proceeded to discuss drug regimens, and quite how pointless both their Plan A and Plan B would become in the face of my stubbornly non-conformist gonads. 50mg of Clomid and 75iu of Menopur was, I assured her, although not quite in these words, about as much likely use as pissing in the river. She ferretted through my brick-thick notes industriously, noting my previous glories and (subsequent) failures. Then we got onto the past performance of the Harry Ute of Doom, although I kept it factual and didn’t linger on the topic, and then onto the whole heart palpitations thing – although that was purely because I wandered off IUI topic whilst discussing which drugs suit me (none of them) and which ones make me a sweating, screaming harpy (all of them).

‘I think I’d best go and see Dr. Kind and Beautiful Lady Consultant’ she said, finally.

‘Ok!’ I chirruped, having maintained an attitude of such cheeriness throughout the session that you could be forgiven for thinking I had a hockey stick secreted somewhere jolly about my person. ‘I sent her an email a few days ago about something not directly related to treatment, but I doubt she’s seen it yet.’

She went. She was a while. She came back. She took a deep breath.

Dr. Kind and Beautiful Lady Consultant had recommended, first of all, that I have an AMH blood test. This would be an extra £77 on top of the £650 for IUI, but I have no objection to any test she thinks worthwhile. I was a trifle puzzled why ovarian reserve had suddenly popped out of the woodwork this morning, when I saw her in clinic a bare few weeks ago, but didn’t have the opportunity to analyse the issue, as the nurse was continuing to talk.

‘Dr. Kind and Beautiful Lady Consultant’s just gone into clinic, or she’d have come down to see you for a chat. She says she’s sorry she can’t (reply to?/deal with?) your email, she’s getting hundreds a day at the moment. But she told me that she really thinks you’d be better off doing IVF, so we can replace the embryo in a specific uterus. And although you said that downregulating makes your arrhythmia a lot worse, she said we should use a different protocol using the combined pill and antagonists, so you wouldn’t have to go through a long downregulation at all. And Dr K&BLC recommends you make an appointment with Counsellor X.’

She stopped for a bit here, probably because she noticed she was confronting a pair of saggy-open jaws. I stuttered for a bit, looked at John, stuttered some more, and eventually found first verbal gear long enough to express that this WAS the counselled Me, and they should have seen the emails I was writing before therapy. And that we were going to have to go away (Again. God Al-fucking-mighty.) and chew on the whole IVF thing. And… was this advice being given to us simply on the basis of my distrust of my right uterus? Nod.

We looked at each other and I pulled my favourite ‘Well, Bugger Me Sideways!’ face. I know John doesn’t fancy IVF; Christ, he wasn’t even fancying IUI much. I asked for the needles kit anyway, on the basis that whatever we do from here on out, we’d require it, and I have an amended IUI prescription sheet with more elephantine quantities of everything on it.  We are to ring when we have decided what treat treatment we want to select off their menu.

I’m being offered a chance of using my ‘Good’ uterus – just at the point where I’d come to terms with using the ‘Bad’ one. I’m being offered a protocol I didn’t know about, aimed at low responders, and, co-incidentally, also at those whose cardiac knickers get in a twist about prolonged pituitary suppression; that’d be… me, then, really. It seems a damn good offer – providing you overlook the slight matter of the gaping wound it would deal to the Hairy exchequer, the fact that I said I’d never do IVF again, the fact that it’s a far more invasive intervention than either of us envisaged (or require?), and the fact that I could be spending thousands of (possibly gratuitous) pounds, simply because of a gut fear; a feeling that might be completely and utterly wrong. 

I shall need to do more than eschew all hokey religions and ancient weapons in favour of a good blaster at my side to work this one out.

And I wish the bloody goal posts’d stop moving.

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