Sunday, 26 December 2010

The Empress’ New Operation

“Right, last item on the agenda:

What are we going to do about this persistent emailer and phoner?

Of course I mean Liz.

If I’m honest we did say that we’d do the operation in early January but actually, looking at my diary, I don’t have a slot until March. Any ideas how we can get round this?

What was that Sandra?

No, if we just send an appointment through for March, then she’ll kick up a stink about getting older and probably bring up all the other months she has spent waiting for other appointments. We need to think clever…

That, my dear, is a fantastic idea. We’ll offer her an appointment on Christmas Eve. She’s a posh type, so is bound to be going off to the countryside with Mummy and Daddy and can’t possibly be able to make it. But if we offer it to her then she’ll have no come back if we send her next appointment through for March.

I’ll phone her now.

Shhh … it is ringing … stop giggling.

Er… ahem … Hello. Is that Elizabeth?

Great, well, we have an appointment date for you. The 24th of December.

Yes, Christmas eve. Can you make it?

Oh. Oh you can? Er, I see. Well. Great. See you there.

Bye.

Shit, shit, shit. She can only bloody come in? What now?

There is no way there’ll be a slot in surgery on Christmas Eve.

Look, Sandy, does that anaesthetist still fancy you? Good. I’ve got a plan.

We’ll get her in. Knock her out for about an hour and just tell her we’ve done the operation when she comes round.

No, of course she won’t be able to tell that we’ve done nothing. She’ll just think that she was knocked out for all of it. She won’t expect to feel anything. And we’ll just tell her to keep taking the pain killers so that if she wonders why she doesn’t feel any pain she’ll just assume that they are fantastic drugs.

Of course we’ll give her the placebos.

Well I think that is all.

Thanks for your time.

Oh, wait a minute.

Wait … hello … bugger, everyone has gone. Only I was wondering who was going to write the fake notes for her operation.

Dammit. Well, I’m not going to do it. She’s mouthy enough she can damn well tell them what she wants herself when she goes for her ‘operation’.”

****

This is what I like to call: ‘a comedic way of explaining why I feel so well and unviolated after my so called operation’ and what the husband likes to call: ‘Oh no, you didn’t try and do a funny did you? Don’t do funnies’.


Friday, 24 December 2010

Christmas Starts ... Now

At 9:30 this morning I had that impending sense of doom that only seems to come during battles with the NHS.

The nurse started by telling me they didn't have my notes.

Once they were found I had my consultation with the surgeon. Her opening gambit to me was "These notes are very confusing. Are you having a Mirena coil put in?"

If I hadn't been in such a weakened state from lack of food and drink I might have concussed myself from banging my head repeatedly against the table. This may be the reason they ban folk from sustenance prior to operations.

Luckily something about yesterday's pre-op had given me an inkling this might happen so I had carefully written out my expectations for the operation, what drugs I am taking now, what drugs I expected afterwards.

Once we had sorted that out and I'd waited, and waited, and a bit more waiting I went up for the anaesthetic.

Frankly my dears, opiates are for the win.

I loved it.

I was only out for an hour and woke feeling refreshed, happy, compos mentis and in absolutely no pain.

Now, a few hours later, I'm on the sofa - watching my choice of TV - and feeling a little light headed but generally all good. It really wasn't bad at all.

You are welcome to leave comments pointing out that a) you told me so and b) that I should stop being such a big girl's blouse.

And in return, I want to wish all of you a FANTASTIC CHRISTMAS!

Have a great ones, dudes.


Thursday, 23 December 2010

Pre-Op (not in a transexual way)

It would be fair to say I was already feeling somewhat trepidacious about tomorrow’s operation, today’s pre-op appointment added new worries.

Oddly enough it wasn't the actual scrape (despite the archaic image that conjures) but the general anaesthetic that was causing me the most fear.

I imagined being strapped to a hospital trolley whilst a large rubber mask piping sleep-gas half suffocated me, or maybe cotton wool soaked in ethanol would be administered from behind whilst I struggle to free myself.

It is possible I have read too many Agatha Christie's.

I confided my fears to the husband who laughed in my face gently explained that nowadays anaesthetics are done by injection. So that was a relief.

(Although now I am imagining tranquiliser darts.)

Melodramatic? Moi?

But now I have a new worry. The girl (and yes, I do mean that in a somewhat derogatory way) who went through the pre-op form with me today was less than helpful.

She checked my file and confidently wrote down the procedure I was due to have ‘Hysteroscopy and Mirena Coil insertion’.

I gently pointed out I have had this. In August.

I tried to explain the procedure I was due to have but came up with an unforeseen problem. How the hell do you pronounce ‘curettage’? I tried three times before resorting to womb scrape.

She crossed out the Mirena Coil bit.

We continued the pre-op questions. At the end of the appointment I wasn’t happy. Call me pernickety but I was really quite keen to establish that they would perform the right operation.

The girl disregarded my concerns with a, “You haven’t signed the consent form so they won’t be able to do anything without you checking it is the right procedure.”

I countered with a “But do you have my up-to-date notes? Do you know what the surgery should be?”

“Your notes are all here” she confidently tapped the pile of notes from which only moments earlier she had extracted the wrong information about what procedure I was due to have.

“Yes, but, why then did you not have the right information about what procedure I am supposed to have tomorrow?”

She looked at me with utter incomprehension, her expression for all the world like my dog’s when I explain why he can’t eat any of my pizza. Eager to please, hopeful, but really very, very little going on behind the eyes (I leave it to you to decide whether that last sentence referred to my dog, the pre-op nurse, or both).

In one last desperate attempt to get her point across she reiterated that I’d be signing the consent form the next day so could check then.

Next I asked her what time I should get the husband to come and collected me after surgery. She was on much happier ground here stating, “Obviously we don’t have the list of appointments yet, so we don’t know when you’ll be finished.”

The use of the word ‘Obviously’ irked me. Is it ‘obvious’ that you wouldn’t have a list of operations happening tomorrow morning in your hospital. I mean I get there can be emergency admissions and not everything is set in stone, but a ball-park time, maybe?

No, clearly not.

So tomorrow I will be up earlier than a child at Christmas [see, keeping it topical] to go for an operation apparently of my choosing. What shall I go for? Designer Vagina? A bit of Christmas Vajazzle? (That last link is not suitable for work, if any of you are still at work.)


Saturday, 18 December 2010

A Christmas Cracker

Once again Womb For Improvement Incorporated brings you the game you can't afford to be without this Christmas.

Building on the long term success of Barren Bingo and last year's surprise hit Conceive Or Deceive, we are delighted to announce, new for 2010, Conceive Or Concede, based on much loved childhood games of Snakes and Ladders and the Monopoly Chance card.

This deceptively simple game give you the opportunity to pit chance against your uterus and see if you can get impregnated, or will you simply concede defeat?

Download the game here and (using your own dice and counters) simply throw the dice and see if you can get from cycle day one all the way to pregnancy on day thirty.

MANUFACTURERS NOTE: There have been some scurrilous rumours in the gutter press that this game is impossible. It is perfectly easy to win on your first go, you simply need to throw five sixes in a row.

DISCLAIMER: You success, or otherwise, in this game bears no actual bearing on your success at getting pregnant. This is born out by the fact that in controlled conditions men appear to be more successful at this game than women.


Wednesday, 15 December 2010

‘Twill be the day before Christmas

‘Twill be the day before Christmas, when all through the streets
People will be rushing, buying last minute treats
But Womb For Improvement will miss this preparation
As I’ll be in hospital for a womb-cleaning operation

I didn’t write to Santa, he didn’t get my letter
I’d emailed the nurses, but then gone one better
A plea to the Doc with my one festive wish
Brought a Christmas Eve appointment and an end to anguish

At half seven in the morning I’ll arrive, nill by mouth
And the doctor’s attentions will head further south
He’ll scurry up my chimney and clear out my womb
In the hope it’ll kick start next year’s Baby Boom

I have no idea how I’ll feel the next day
This site seems to think that I should be OK
But I suspect it’ll scupper my chance to indulge
How better to bypass the post-Christmas bulge?

****

This time apologies must go to, um, Clement Clarke Moore. And for those of you groaning at the back, I promise that this is the last poem post I'll do for a while (well the next date that lends itself to it is Burns Night in January and I don't think I could tackle 'Ode to a Haggis').

And for those who found the post a little obtuse: I emailed my consultant and his secretary called within hours, giving me an appointment for the 24 of December.


Monday, 13 December 2010

Elephantitis of the Topic

On Saturday we went round to dinner with a couple of mates.

Good friends. Old friends. They have a daughter who is a year and a half.

Within moments of entering their house my pregno-dar was off the hook, beeping like a Geiger-counter at Chernobyl.

It wasn't so much the refusal of wine, as the protruding stomach that gave it away. I'm guessing she is 3/4 months in.

We chatted all night, about work, mortgages, student protests, the state of the nation, Nigel Slater, the voice over man from Come Dine With Me - normal middle-class London chatter. What we didn't talk about was our infertility (they know, they've known for a couple of years - although don't know about this blog), or their pregnancy (I don't think they thought we'd clocked it).

It became almost a challenge. I engineered several openings for them, from asking how her work was going and how long she thought she'd stay where she was - the perfect opportunity for maternity-leave talk. To a discussion about their two bed-roomed house and if they were thinking of moving, she even went as far as talking in vague terms about if they, as a family, expanded. This, as she was expanding before my very eyes.

For me, the whole night was dominated by this elephant in the room. (A metaphorical one, she isn't that big).

It was almost painful. I wanted to say "So have you any news ... " trailing off and leaving a pregnant pause for a pregnancy announcement. But I've been at the other end of that kind of statement so I didn't. I just waited. And waited.

And they said nothing.

I presume they feel awkward telling us, knowing full well that we had already been trying for a couple of years when they (easily) conceived their first. But they must know we'll find out soon enough.

Obviously what they should have done was emailed or texted in advance. But as they hadn't I was a bit lost as what to say or do. Which prompted an idea. We need a James Bond-style code, one that is revealed on a strip of pregnancy test paper with the application of urine imbibed with the hCG hormone, (a which would denote a positive test, for those not in the know).

So we'd say, "The Salmon are migrating."

And if they are pregnant they'd respond with the revealed response "Yes, they return to where they are born to spawn."

And if they aren't pregnant they say, "What?! What the fuck are you going on about? You don't fish do you?"

So GSK, Unilever, and other manufacturers of pregnancy tests, do you reckon you could sort that one out for me?

Thanks.


Saturday, 11 December 2010

It Worked ... And It Didn't Work

On Friday, less than 24 hours after I emailed, I got a call from the nurse (the one the Doctor has specifically name checked as the person who would be booking me in for my appointment). I missed the call but got a long, rambling answer phone message, the essence of which was:

I'm not sure what the procedure you are going to be booked in for is, so it is difficult for me to advise you about how much recovery time you'll need.

The message was long with a real emphasis on how much time I may or may not need for recovery, which was incredibly frustrating. I don't really care about how much time I need to take off work. I'll deal with that when I have to. All I want to know is ‘WHEN IS MY APPOINTMENT?’.

In retrospect it is fair enough, my email concentrated on the recovery time. But that was just a way to draw her in. What I really wanted to make sure of was that somebody, somewhere is blocking out the Doctor's diary with my name in big bold letters.

So I sent another email thanking her for getting in touch and asked her if she thought there was anyone else I should possibly be in touch with.

I haven't heard back.

I think there are lessons to be learned from this.

Namely I should know my limits, and shouldn’t try to be clever in future.


Thursday, 9 December 2010

In Which I Try A Spot Of Manipulation

I am becoming more and more manipulative. And I like it.

Those who follow the nail-biting story of months of inactivity punctured by the brief flurries of excitement that is my quest for kids will know that, on Tuesday, I was promised a manual womb scrape.

This isn't the sort of offer a girl like me likes to turn down. Who needs a facial micro dermal abrasion when something like this is on offer?

The problem is I wasn't given an exact date. Just the vague promise of early January. And this from the same doctor who, in March, confidently predicted I'd have IVF in late Spring - not realising the next available appointment was in June, quite apart from the subsequent medical problems that was never going to happen.

So what to do? Back in the day, I would have waited patiently for a letter informing me of the appointment.

More recently I would have tried ringing and left numerous messages, on a machine that I strongly suspect doesn't have any tape in it, to try and secure the appointment.

Just last week I might have sent an email asking when my appointment would be.

Today I decided to try another tack. I emailed the nurse who is due to book me in, but, and here is the fiendishly clever bit:

The explicit purpose of the email wasn't to ask when my appointment would be.

I simply asked how many days she thought I'd need to take off work to recover from the general anaesthetic. And then I added, just as a casual side note, that it'd be good to get the date for the appointment soon, just so I could clear it with work.

See the difference? What I did was ask a question that would appeal to her caring, nurturing, professional-opinion side I even added, in brackets, that I had never had a general anaesthetic before. Thus displaying a heart-tugging amount of vulnerability. (That wasn't a lie, I haven't, the closest I have been to one was when the wombmate had her adenoids out aged 5. I remember her saying she woke up with sick on the pillow and I gave her a Mr Men book as a get well present, ever since the idea of a general has both repelled and appealed to me in equal measure.*)

So there you go, more manipulative than someone who posts on twitter "I am really upset" and sits back awaiting the direct messages.

How long do you reckon before I get a response?

*Obviously by recalling this 29 year old anecdote I am in no way suggesting that when I do have a general anaesthetic the womb mate should repay the debt by getting me a present.

Not at all.

I would never be so manipulative.

Nope.

Wombmate, Don't even let it cross your mind.

You put that purse away.

I mean, if you did want to get me maybe a ... I dunno ... DVD to watch from the sofa whilst recovering I obviously couldn't stop you.

(I'll send you my wish list from Amazon, shall I?).


Tuesday, 7 December 2010

There Is A Plan

The appointment today wasn’t quite what I expected.

I’d anticipated another biopsy so had done the requisite preparations (taken pain killers, shaved legs, waxed muff, painted toe nails – one likes to make a good impression) but it was just a chat about the next step.

And it was broadly positive.

The doctor seems to have a grudging admiration for the tenacity of my diseased womb lining.

“It just won’t shift. This is beyond a joke now.” He stated the obvious (and I wondered whether he’d read this blog, as the past few posts have also been beyond a joke).

The plan is to give me a curettage (manual scraping of the womb) in early January. Thankfully he wants to do this whilst I am under a general anaesthetic so, as he said “I can have a good rummage around without worrying about hurting you.” (I’m getting increasingly convinced he reads my blog, I’m sure I’ve used that phrase before).

This should clear my womb and then I am going to start taking Zoladex to bring on a menopause (reversible, he assured me). I’ll take this for one or two months depending on how well I respond. Which, looking on the brightside isn’t too bad, my office is freezing so hot flushes during January and February would be welcome.

Then I go straight onto IVF in February or March.

The doctor was incredibly positive about my chances with IVF, he was very complimentary about my egg quality and overall health. It is just this (very) bloody womb lining which prevents implantation, so there is no point in progressing until it is resolved.

I asked what they would do if the curettage and Zoladex didn’t work. Apparently I’ll go on the drugs for longer and he’ll look at freezing some embryos so that if there are further delays I won’t then be subjected to age-related infertility.

And if that doesn’t work, the next option is surrogacy.

“But it won’t come to that,” he pledged. His eyes narrowed, and suddenly he wasn’t speaking to me but levying a threat direct to my womb lining, “I’ve not failed before, and I am not about to be defeated now.”

I feel reassured, and looked after. I get the impression this is personal now, the doctor is looking out for me.

In fact, I was filled with such confidence that I forgot to ask about going private.

Now I just have to hope that I really do get my appointment for the womb deep-clean in early January rather than experiencing more delays.

And this Christmas I am going to overindulge without any guilt.


Sunday, 5 December 2010

You Are All Wonderful

Thank you all for your wonderful comments. They really did cheer me up. I want to thank you all individually. In fact *runs off and taps on computer for a moment* I just have. I've been a bit lazy about replying to comments recently, and I am sorry, I will do better.

Another big shout out goes to the husband who jettisoned his works Christmas party - and more importantly a free bar - to come home and sit with a wife who was quite frankly poor company.

Tuesday's appointment is creeping up, but I don't expect many answers. The Doctor will do another biopsy and, in my more optimistic moments I wonder if the second biopsy might give me the all clear. But I won't get the results for at least a week, or four.

The most I can hope from this appointment is options. What they'll do if the biopsy is clear (unlikely) or not (likely).

But I do think it is also time to discuss with the Doctor my treatment options. I am so grateful to the NHS for their virtually free service, but it isn't without its downsides.

Namely the waiting.

In the last year I have had three months of treatment and the rest of the time has been weeks of inactivity and waiting. If I had been doing all the tests and appointments privately I reckon it would have taken me a maximum of 5 months to get here, rather than almost a year.

I can't wait another year. I can't do this again. The time has come to throw money at the problem, or at the very least extract a solemn pledge from the Doctor that the fannying around will desist. (By which I mean the waiting, I suspect I have an awful lot fannying around still to come).


Thursday, 2 December 2010

Operation Mojo: Day 4: Results

I'll cut to the chase.

I got the long awaited biopsy results today.

It is a FAIL.

There is still some endometrial hyperplasia kicking around. I go back to the Doctor on Tuesday for another biopsy, and hysteroscopy and a plan of what they'll do next. I don't know what that will be, but I can be pretty confident that it won't be IVF in January.

I don't know what the mojo measurement for distraught is, but I imagine it is somewhere on a par with the temperatures here in London. (Minus figures, for those who aren't in the know).

I give up on the mojo challenge.

I am going to have a glass of wine just now. And maybe another cry. And a bath.

***

Updated to add:

It was the nurse who phoned with me with my results. She could tell I was upset with the news and didn't say much on the phone. But she has just sent me an email (at five to eight on a Thursday night) which is worth quoting in full.

Hi Elizabeth
I just wanted to say I am so sorry the results were not what we had all hoped for, and there is nothing I can say which will make you feel any better right now.

I hope after seeing Mr **** Tuesday things will not seem so dark.

I have asked the reception staff to send you a letter confirming this, however if you don't receive it, please still come to clinic 3 at 2-30 and advise them you are here to see him.

Do take care .
Elsa

I've said it before, and I will no doubt say it again, and again, but once you get past the administration fuck-ups the NHS staff are second to none.



Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Operation Mojo: Day 3: No Endorphins

Today's post was going to be about how the natural endorphins released by vigorous exercise can help restore the balance of one's moods.

However, my personal trainer cancelled on me, and the husband is out. So I won't be getting hot and sweaty with any man tonight.

Actually, fuck endorphins, finding out that I couldn't go for my training session raised my spirits immeasurably. Friends, I have tried, I have really, really tried, but ... I hate the gym.

When I started going (again) I pictured myself morphing in a few short months into one of those lycra-clad women. You know the type, the ones who don't wear a free, 5-year-old, radio-station, baggy T-shirt to the the gym. The women who just wear a bra to work out in, because they want to show off their washboard stomach (I have a washing machine stomach - complete with the gurgling noises). The women who can actually exercise in front of the floor-to-ceiling mirrors
without experiencing the urge to gouge their own eyes out. Women who finish their exercise glowing charmingly, not collapsed in a puddle emitting more heat than a domestic oven.

I will never join those ranks.

My personal trainer is encouraging, but I see myself reflected in his eyes. An uncoordinated, soft-round the edges, middle-aged woman (I'm not middle aged, I am a respectable 34 but this guy is about 24 so to him I am O-L-D). I swear some weeks, when he gets me to balance on some playground contraption and move one leg one way whilst doing something different with my arms he just does it for his own light relief, inwardly mocking me as I flail around like an epileptic disc jockey, (remember I am wearing an XFM breakfast show T-shirt - it all links up).

Actually the personal trainer is a nice guy, and I know he is trying his best with what I have presented him with. But I have grown to kinda hate him. So, apologies if this is your father's, brother's, lover's, favourite Jackson's or most revered female eunuch's name; but I am not going to be naming my first born Jermaine after this dude. He sacrificed all naming rights when he made me do squats, followed my pelvic thrusts in the weight room amongst all the steriod-pumped guys.

And if any one of you suggests that, even without the trainer, I could have gone to the gym by myself anyway then, so help me, I will find a way of blocking you from this site.

After an unexpected reprieve from exercise my mojo is now hovering around 5.

(Bought down by the fact I do feel a bit guilty for sofa snuggling tonight and, despite phone calls and emails, STILL no biopsy results.)