Monday, August 22, 2005

And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, and you may ask yourself did I get here?

The Prequel (part 1)

I married at 32. We had been together for seven years, but my husband had wanted to wait (if it had been his choice only we would have waited forever- he did not regard marriage as the next step towards starting our life together. But for me and my East Indian immigrant parents it was essential). We moved in together and waited to settle in. ‘You can’t have a baby while living in a one bedroom apartment he said. Plus it’s a crappy apartment’ (it wasn't really). We began looking for a house. Another year went by. 32 is young he'd say, when I mentioned the baby thing.

August 2001
We buy a house. We elope. Now, yes now, we can start thinking about having a baby. One month after our wedding, I wake up nauseous and weak. My face is puffy. I am convinced I’m deathly ill. Well, says the doctor, you’re either pregnant (really!) or you have mono. We do a blood test. Everyone knows it can’t be mono. Mono is the kissing disease you get in grade 7. Noone gets mono when they’re 32. The blood test comes back. I am not pregnant. I have mono.

May 2002
I'm having weird cramps. They don't go away. I rush to the drugstore, and for the first time in my life, purchase a pregnancy test. That’s odd- it’s negative. Maybe it’s too soon. The next day I try the second test. Still negative. A few weeks go by and mild cramping turns to a dull pain that won’t go away. Another trip to the doctor. Mild pelvic pain is very common in women she says. It’s usually an ovarian cyst. They usually go away on their own. Just le me know if the pain gets worse.
“Watchful waiting” they call it.
The pain gets worse.
I am taking little blue naproxen pills every few hours. They do nothing. It takes months of this to convince her to schedule an ultrasound.
The ultrasound reveals a massive cyst. Aha! Time to get this taken care of, I think to myself. My doctor disagrees. Let’s wait she says. We’ll do another ultrasound. I increase my dosage of pain killers and, like a good Indian girl, I listen to my doctor.
I am a patient patient. I wait.
The pain in excruciating now. Another month goes by. The second ultrasound reveals the cyst has gotten even larger. You need to see a specialist, my doctor says. Silently I am wondering why she didn’t make this fabulous suggestion three months ago. It is September now. For five months now this thing has been growing inside me. It is now the size of a grapefruit.
The wait time to see an experiened OB/GYN in town is one year she helpfully tells me. I will be dead by then, I am sure of it. Luckily we have colleagues with connections who can help speed this process along (yes, it's called 'jumping the queue' and yes I was all too happy to do it). A friend calls Dr. OB/GYN and I have an appointment one week later.

Dr. OB/GYN schedules me for surgery right away. Nothing to worry about, just a minor laproscopic procedure. I won’t even need to stay overnight. Everything will be fine.

November 2002
It’s not fine. I emerge from the haze of anaesthesia in the obstetrical ward of the hospital. I am hooked up to breathing tubes, an IV, a catheter, and a morphine drip. The cyst was not a cyst- it was an endometrioma: endometrial blood and tissue collecting inside my ovary. The sugery was not a minor laproscopic procedure but a much more extensive abdominal surgery. My left ovary (“there was nothing left”) has been removed and both fallopian tubes are damaged. I have 25 staples across my abdomen and will not be going home tonight.

By the time I left the hospital I had learned that my chances of getting pregnant were greatly diminished. Our best route, we're told, is IVF. "You’re young and healthy" I'm told, "but you don't have time to see if you can get pregnant naturally". With one ovary and damaged tubes it’s unlikely anyways.

February 2003
In one year I have gone from a hopeful newly wed to infertile basketcase. We're referred to an IVF clinic 300 km away. Our appointment is scheduled for October (nine months away). We are not to contact them before our appointment (no phone calls, no emails, no faxes allowed). Just make sure you have done all the necessary blood and diagnostic tests before hand. We are tested for HIV, Hepatitis, etc. I have to undergo a hysterosalpingogarm- HSG- a procedure that pushes dye through your tubes to see if they are open. In their wisdom, the provincial government has decided that only women with two completely blocked tubes will receive OHIP coverage for an IVF cycle. Everyone else (including those with one ovary and two damaged but apparently open tubes) pays for all IVF costs out of pocket. Clearly the people making these policies are middle-aged men.


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