Monday, 28 June 2010

That'll be cycle day one then

You wouldn't necessarily expect an infertile, such as myself, to be delighted when her period arrives. But when your cycle has notched up an impressive 59 days quite frankly it is just a relief to get a sign that you aren't dead from the waist down (no sex gags Liz, bite your tongue).

I was starting to get worried, as it had been a week since my last Provera pill. Last time I took Provera it didn't work and I was put on birth control for six months. And nobody wants that (and when I say nobody, I specifically mean *I* don't want that).

But with its trade mark punch-in-the-guts entry, combined with a dose of inexplicable melancholy my period has arrived. I have reset the P tracker and am on course for a nice clear womb for next week's hysteroscopy.

In other news I am expecting a kick-back from the German and Ghanaian an team for my sterling work in ensuring that neither England or US progressed any further in the World Cup. Thank fuck this blog is anonymous or I'd be unable to leave the house without protection.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Come On Slovenia!

I am about to commit heresy, or treason, or blasphemy. Or all three.

I don't want England to progress any further in this world cup.

For those of you not lucky enough to reside in this green, and usually pleasant land, that may not sound like too controversial a statement.

However, to huge swathes of this population football is not only a game.

Every four years, for a month (or at least a few weeks until we get knocked out), every street in England is festooned with the red and white of the Cross of St George. Productivity plummets as work colleagues spend their days furtively watching matches on their computers, checking scores on their i-phones and telling anyone who will listen exactly how they would sort out our team if only they'd got the job rather than Fabio Cappello.

Wimbledon, which usually provokes a rush of national hysteria around the only British player to attempt a victory, is ignored. Ascot's column inches devoted to the hats and horses are eaten up by sports journalists discussing the role of the four-four-two formation in the modern football game. And Big Brother becomes a mere annoyance rather than a cultural phenomenon, OK that is the same every year, but you get my point.

This year I might well be the only English person in the world who is loudly cheering for the other side.

The reason for this unpatriotic stance isn't because I can't stand the unrealistic, jingoistic headlines spewed out by the tabloid press. It isn't because I am fed up with the sport being deemed the last bastion of the Empire. Or because I never want to hear another vuvuzela again. Admittedly these are all good reasons in their own right.

It is because with every game we win, nine months later there will be a glut of babies. And if we win the entire World Cup there won't be a fertile woman between here and Berwick-Upon-Tweed who doesn't get knocked up. Because we all know that nothing makes the English male more horny than watching men in tight white shorts running around a field and scoring. (I'm talking about football not dogging, although ...)

And my reasons for not wanting a baby-boom are purely, and unashamedly, selfish. The way I see it the rest of my year is going to go one of three ways:

1) I have IVF and it fails. In which case I won't want to be surrounded by pregnant women rubbing their tummies in my face. (Metaphorically, but literally would suck too).

2) I don't have IVF for a combination of never being able to get an appointment and problems with the results from my hysteroscopy (as above).

3) I have a successful IVF / a shock conception. My child will be born just after the World Cup kids by which time all the nursery places are taken and for the whole of its life the fruit of my decrepit loins will find itself struggling in a saturated market whether it is for school or university places, jobs or romance. (Yeah I'm thinking long term here).

Luckily for me there is one person who wants England to win even less than me; the Scottish husband. So domestic harmony is assured. And tomorrow afternoon we'll be cheering for Slovenia.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Three strikes and you're ... what?

About those four pregnancy tests.

For the majority of this year I have tried to forget about conception, let things happen naturally, and … um … what’s the word? Ah yes, relax. 'Cause I've heard that is how you get pregnant.

It didn’t work. My period came and went with surprising regularity (especially considering my past form when cycles of 80 or 90 days were common). Then, come the end of April, I decided in one last-ditch attempt to get up the duff naturally I’d test for ovulation. (Yeah, this was when I really believed my June appointment would result in IVF not more waiting – stop sniggering at the back.)

From day 11 my morning ritual included soaking a digital ovulation test in vial of my own amber nectar. And yes, contrary to my usual parsimony I decided to go digital all they way, after all how many could I get through in one cycle?

Answer: 39.

For thirty nine days straight I hopefully splashed out to be rewarded by a blank face indicating no ovulation action.

After about 20 days when, in theory, I was due a period. I had the bizarre opportunity to test for both pregnancy and ovulation at the same time. Both negative.

A week later (whilst still frantically hoping for ovulation) I had another go.

Still Negative.

Last Thursday, on the day of my appointment, I decided to take another pregnancy test and for added accuracy I wanted the first urine of the day. So I took a test.

At four o’clock in the morning.

It looked negative.

When I checked again in the cold light of day I thought I saw something.

Can you see it?

If you look really, really carefully where the line that indicates pregnancy should be there are two incredibly thin pink lines (this was the best picture I can get, but you can see it clearly on the actual test).

After never having had a second line on a pregnancy test I suddenly had three! What did this mean? Twins perhaphs?!

The morning was spent googling and although I found numerous references to people getting three lines on their pregnancy tests no one came back to tell me if they had subsequently discovered they were pregnant.

Eventually I rang the helpline on the packet.

“It is faulty” the woman dismissed my query and dashed my hopes. She started to tell me how I could go about getting a refund. For once I wasn’t interested in getting my money back.

I told her this and explained all I really wanted to know whether there was any chance it could mean I was pregnant. She told me the test meant nothing.

So I’m mentioning the brand name, not to name and shame (they were very nice on the phone and answered immediately which was a refreshing change), but for anyone who finds this blog by googling:

“Three lines on a First Response Pregnancy test”

Allow me to tell you the test is bust.

It means nothing.

You need to take another test.

I did.

And it was negative (of course).

Friday, 18 June 2010

The Doc and The Dude

Yesterday's appointment was never going to give me the go ahead for IVF and all the answers I needed.

I knew this in May when I received a date for a test that post dated the "go through all the results and give you your protocol" appointment. Time-travel not being within the skillset of the NHS.

Yesterday the doctor went through all the results so far, and used words like “outstanding”, “exceptional” and "Ok ... fine". (The former results were for tests relating to my ovaries the latter for the husband's spunk). In fact every test came back good – quite frankly if it wasn’t for the lack of pregnancies I wouldn’t deserve the moniker ‘infertile’.

My egg reserves are so healthy that, when I start IVF, he is going to do as little egg production stimulation as possible as there is a danger of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome. So it is good news, but also a little scary.

There is also a slight issue that my ovaries have not been particularly cooperative of late. I haven't had a period for 50 days.

"Have you taken a pregnancy test?" He asked, all wide eyed and innocent.


“ A couple...

“Well, three ...

“No. Four. All negative." (But that is another post)

So I am back on the Provera for five days, which timing wise works quite nicely, hopefully I'll get to expunge whatever is lurking in my uterus in time for a nice clear view up there when I have the hysteroscopy.

The problem is what happens next.

"Ideally", he told me, "we'd get you straight back in after the hysteroscopy in July, and assuming there is nothing to worry about we'd put you on birth control for a month to completely suppress your ovaries and then two weeks of very low stimulation followed by IVF.”

You know it is never going to end well when they start a sentence with the word ‘ideally’.

"The trouble is," he confided "we can't always give you the appointment date we'd like..."

No shit.

".. and I know from when I tried to book someone else in today that there isn’t an available appointment now until September."


So we ummed and ahhh. He could, he said, give us the drugs now and we could just call the lab for our hysteroscopy results and if I had the all clear from the Hyperplasia just go ahead with the protocol. But this would be easier if my cycles were regular because then we'd know when I was going to start my period again.

He paused.

We waited.

Had we been waiting long for this appointment? he pondered out loud.

“Yes,” I managed to say without weeping. I tried to keep the hysteria from my voice as I casually mentioned that I was given the go ahead for IVF back in January and the only reason I had waited more than the length of time it takes to get a blood test result was the delay in getting appointments for this and the hysteroscopy.

But then a thought occurred to me. If we wait until the hysteroscopy result, and it is all good then no problem, then we could go ahead with the suppression without the need for another appointment. If, however, there is a issue I wouldn’t know until mid-July and I’d have to try and book another appointment at that point, which at the rate appointments are filling up would likely take my until November. However, if we book now for an appointment in September then we use that either to start IVF or address any problems that arose as part of the hysteroscopy. (Are you keeping up?)

The husband, who was clearly petrified at the idea of being given a bag of drugs today and a few different scenarios to remember, pointed out that it was just a few more weeks, and in the scheme of things that wasn’t so much of a delay.

Ok, I conceded, as long as it is just until September.

And that, you'd think, is where the story ends.


I took my slip requesting the next earliest appointment (in September) to the dude at reception. And I use the word dude advisedly for it was him, innit-man. He took my slip, rolled his eyes, “Oh For Fucks Sake” he mouthed at the universe and, “I’ll be right back “ he yelled at me as he scooted off to the Doctors office.

The Doc and the dude came back to reception. Turns out the next earliest appointment is now in October.

The doctor wringed his hands and lowered his voice, with a cautious glance at the other people in the waiting room he growled through the side of his mouth. “Look I can’t give you a proper appointment but call up a week after your hysteroscopy, when we’ll have the results, and I’ll slot you in during my clinic. It won’t be a full appointment. I can’t spend long with you. But hopefully we can start you off on the IVF then.”

Reader, it took all my self-control not to fall to the floor and kiss his feet.

He left me with the dude. “It’s cool, I’ll put a note in the diary and look ... It is a secret. But...” and he spelled out the doctors email address! This is the first time I have ever been given such precious information. I see deliverance from the endless phoning.

The dude rocks.

And the doctor rocks.

And the NHS, well, its still an administrative nightmare but at least the people it employs try to work round the system not jobs-worthily within it.

Monday, 14 June 2010

I Stand Corrected

I’m not going to justify my pessimism. I will just state clearly and unequivocally:

I was wrong.

I received a letter from the hospital today. They were clearly keen that the letter got to me as soon as possible because look at the franking:

The appointment is this Thursday, which is only a delay of the week.

Suddenly I’m back to believing we have the best health service in the world.

Mood swings – is that a symptom I should be noting down?

Friday, 11 June 2010

London Calling

When I picked up the answer phone message telling me that my appointment had been cancelled they left a phone number to call if I needed further information.

I decided, on balance, that I probably did need a bit of further information, specifically when my appointment was rescheduled for. I tend to be a bit anal about these sorts of things, which is an interesting juxtaposition to my appointments which tend to be quite vaginial. (Yessss! back on the sex gags.)

Now commenters, dear, dear commenters who said things like: "They should have at least given you the next available date, meaning tomorrow!" and "Usually when doctor's need to reschedule, their little assistant person will be asking if you can come in the following Monday or something". I love you, I love your boundless optimism.

Allow me to explain how it works here: The National Health Service, as an institution, hasn't quite bought into the whole service industry culture of private institutions (I refer you to my earlier post). The NHS doesn't have customers, it has patients. And oh boy, do we have to be patient. I have every expectation I will just go straight back to the end of the queue and start again. But I don't want to give away the punch line, lets see what happened:

I phoned the number.

I heard a long dialling tone. Indicating the number didn't work.

I called the nurses (Eunice) I left an answer phone message.

I rang the operator, I explained the original number didn't work.

I was put through to another number, an automated message line.
  • Dial one to speak to a secretary NOT about appointments
  • Dial two for new appointments
  • Dial three for follow up appointments
  • Dial four to listen to a mechanical rendition of Greensleeves
  • Dial five if you want Moldova to win the Eurovision Song contest
  • Dial six if you have lost the will to live.
I dialled three, the line went dead.

I called the operator. I explained what had happened.

The operators fiddled about with some knobs (or that is what I imagined him doing, pulling leads in and out of a big switchboard - I've seen the movies).

The operator told me they had transferred numbers through to the wrong phones which had caused an error. He told me he was getting somewhere.

I was put through to a number, the same automated message line. (Repeat as above).

I rang the nurses again. I spoke to someone (not Eunice). I explained that I couldn't get through the the correct line she told me the phone lines had been playing up. I resisted the urge to say "No shit". She tried to transfer me. She couldn't.

She took my number and said someone would call me back.

See, who says big institutions lack a sense of humour?

Eventually at four thirty today just for fun I tried the number again.

I spoke to someone. He wasn't what I expected, he sounded like his Friday night had already started.

I told him I'd had an appointment cancelled.

"Oh yeah, for IVF, innit?"

I concurred it was indeed. Apparently they'd had to cancel three days worth of appointments and:
"We're making it our priority to sort everything out. Don't worry about it we'll get in touch with you next week. But you know, call back on Monday if you want."

I might just do that.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

So ... what now?

How do you do this blogging thing again?

I know, I’ll ease in with a simple multiple-choice question.

When you have been waiting three months for an appointment whose whole purpose is to go through your test results, do you expect:

a) To have all your tests results back, go through them in a thorough manner and be given your protocol for the long awaited IVF.

b) To go through your test results find there are a few anomalies that you need to check through, discover there is a delay to IVF

c) An answer phone message at 6pm the day before the appointment saying that it has been cancelled.

Those of you who answered C: congratulations!

Yup, I found out yesterday that my appointment has been ‘postponed’; no reason, just an apology for the late notice and a promise they’ll get back to me with a new appointment when they can. Leaving me with a profound sense of disappointment and anti-climax, (and as a measure of just how deflated I am, I can’t even be bothered to make a sex gag at this juncture).

It was inevitable really. It seems every appointment I have had has been tarnished with some kind of delay or mix up.

I thought I knew what this one was.

In May I got a letter inviting me for another hysteroscopy, part of the battery of tests I'd been promised. I called for the next available appointment and it wasn’t until the 7th of July. Thereby managing to postdate the appointment when I was supposed to get the hysteroscopy result by a month. Which is a pretty impressive fuck up.

But this was clearly not spectacular enough. Hence yesterday’s message.

What now? Who knows? I’ll call the hospital again, try to rearrange – and hope that I don’t have to wait another eleven weeks for the appointment.

This baby-making business is hard work, innit?