Saturday, 27 August 2011

Speedy

You'll know, oh loyal readers, that much as I love what the NHS does, it is the time waiting for it to do it, that frustrates the hell out of me.

So imagine my open-mouthed astonishment when, this morning, less than 48 hours after my operation I received the following letter. (I shall reproduce it in full):

I am writing to inform you that Elizabeth underwent an uncomplicated hysteroscopy and biopsy today in Day Surgery Unit. The endometrium appeared normal and samples have been sent. I will write with the results when they are available and liaise with the Reproductive Medicine Unit regarding her follow up.


How is that for brilliant service?

Obviously until the sample has been thoroughly microscoped for any cellular-level nasties I haven't quite got the all clear.

But it is looking encouraging.

And quick.





Friday, 26 August 2011

Convalescing

Although technically I had an operation yesterday - in that I had a pre-op appointment and a general anaesthetic - it was certainly the easier end of operations. No scalpels, no stitches and not much in the way of after care.

They dived in, took all they could from inside my womb and pulled out, leaving nothing but a pair of disposable pants and sanitary towel in their wake.

There were only two difficulties. My name and my vein.

Name


To explain the name thing you need a tiny bit of back story. I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovaries Syndrome way before I started trying to conceive or marry. I got hitched, I indicated to the world my total subjugation to the husband by relinquishing my maiden name and taking his. I changed my name with my passport, bank, mortgage, work, opticians, friends, I didn't get round to changing my name with the doctors. Then about a year after I got married, and realised conception wasn't quite as easy as point and shoot, I made a conscious decision not to change my name so that the doctor wouldn't lose my previous diagnosis.

All carried on happily for another three years. I had to remember to check-in for appointments and pick up prescriptions, under my maiden name, but other than that there wasn't a hitch.

When I started IVF in January of this year I had to present my passport. My passport was in my married name, so I also brought along my marriage license to join the gap in name. It was at this point things got confused. The IVF clinic (which is linked to, but separate, from the NHS unit) insisted on using my married name, the NHS stuck to my maiden.  Whenever I presented myself for appointments I started schizophrenically referring to myself by both names.

At the pre-op appointment things got even more befuddled so the nurse decided to change my name on the NHS records to my married one. However, this didn't seep all the way down through the system, so by the time I got to the day patients check in things were a mess of complications. I checked in in my married name, the name on my bed was my maiden name. The name on my wrist band was my maiden name, the name on my notes was my married name. People kept popping in and double checking who the hell I was.  Today I will go to my GP with my marriage certificate to, once and for all, close that circle.

Oh, and after all that, they never found the old notes diagnosing me with PCOS afterall.

Vein
My hands are not my best features. They are riddled with blue veins.  Not unlike Madonna's, although that is where our similarity ends. So I was surprised that the anaesthetist appeared to be having issues putting the a needle in my hand for the anaesthetic to seep in. He was using straps and whacking my veins with the enthusiasm of a hard-core heroine addict, but seemed to be really struggling.  When the senior guy turned up it the cause became apparent  - I was being practiced on my a junior guy. He'd been skimming the top of my vein rather than plunging the needle into the blood stream. Still we got there in the end.


Oh and have I mentioned how much I enjoy a general? Sweet, sweet oblivion. I could so have been an opium addict in a previous life.

Recovery has been fine.  I was in a bit of pain last night but I'd been sent home from hospital with some hard core painkiller (which I must remember to hide from the husband, whose eyes lit up with he saw them).

Today I am mainly chilling out at home.

Crocheting a monkey.

As you do.

I should get the results of the biopsy in a couple of weeks.



Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Ready for my Operation

You know when bloggers apologise for not blogging for ages and all you think is: “At least my reader hasn’t been so intimidatingly full for the last few days.”

Well.

That.

My news is that I had my pre-op last week. For someone of a generation who has been bought up to associate pre-ops with footballers having unfortunate run-ins with attractive, Adam’s apple (and plum) bearing, um, ladies. My pre-op was disappointingly unexotic.

It is basically filling out a questionnaire with help, a nurse ticks the boxes rather me. I confirmed I don’t have:
Diabetes
Angina
Deep veined thrombosis
Dentures
Fillings
Pace maker
Weight-problem
A bad reaction to anaesthetic
A recreational drug habit
A pregnancy …

Exactly the same questions that, I know from past experience, they will ask me at least twice on the morning of the operation itself. Still always best to weed out the weak and sickly in advance.

The most exciting bit was the MRSA test. This involves shoving two cotton-buds (Q-tips) up one nostril, swirling it round five times, then repeating the process for the second nostril, then popping the sticks in a little tube. You cannot help but look to see what has come out. In my case disappointingly little of the green stuff, and I wonder whether this isn’t just a sly way of working out who the coke takers are.

Then I gave some blood, because the hospital seems incapable of seeing me without taking a few vials. I like to think that rather than testing for anything that I am single-handedly keeping London’s stocks of A positive blood.

I should probably get a badge*.

The finale was going to see my consultant. The one who never replied to my emails about whether I was “on the list”. It wasn’t a proper (by which I mean wait 6 weeks or pay two hundred quid appointment) appointment, I dashed in to get a consent form signed.

 “Next week!” he exclaimed upon seeing I had the appointment booked, “Well, that was quick” he continued happily. Bearing in mind this man is going to be helping create any future babies I have I decided not to take him to task on his slack responses, but just agreed and to get the bloody thing signed. More or less the same approach I adopted when marrying my now husband as we prepared to sign the marriage register.

So I am now ready for my operation on Thursday.

It will be under General Anaesthetic (which always sounds like an Asterix character to me) but just as a day-patient so it isn’t a big deal. Essentially they are going to dive into my uterus, and take out as much of my womb lining as they conceivably can, to allow me a fresh start to conceivably conceive. They’ll test what they’ve taken out to check that nothing seriously nasty is growing – that the cells that were pre-cancerous have started behaving themselves. Then, assuming I get the all clear, I'll go for IVF in October or November.



*Hancock’s Half hour reference. I don’t really think I should get a medal.**

(** I do really.)***

(*** Nothing fancy, but maybe with a bit of enamel on it.)




Tuesday, 16 August 2011

I've Got A Date

After assurances from my Doctors secretary that I was "on the list" (yeah, no doubt sweetheart, I know what kind of list you are referring to, we have one of those in our office too) I heard nothing more about a possible appointment.

It has only been ten days since I knew that I hadn't been forgotten about.  But it has felt like weeks. I was starting to get despondent again as I saw my window of opportunity for IVF in October/November being slammed down on my fingers.

I started to get desperate.

By desperate I mean emptying my piggy bank and working out the cost of going private for the biopsy plus the cost of the IVF minus a months wages when I take unpaid leave. Much as I like the colour red it isn't a pretty equation.

I'd taken K's advice and, just casually, asked my consultant's secretary if I could be on the waiting list for cancellations.

I got a call today. There has been a cancellation.

My biopsy is now scheduled for next week.

So now all I need is the biopsy to be all clear, IVF number three to happen, get a healthy embryo, freeze some spares, get pregnant, have a baby next summer, spend the summer breast-feeding whilst watching the Olympics, find a decent nursery, go back to work, have a frozen embryo transfer, get pregnant again, have baby number two, find a decent primary school, ensure both children have a happy and safe childhood and become nice, non-looting, teenagers.

Piece o' piss. I feel like I've done the hard work already*.



* I know, I know, I haven't. But give me a moment of triumph before the hard work starts again.



Sunday, 14 August 2011

Back From A Wedding



Weddings.

They bring out the best in people (gales of laughter worthy of a night at the Edinburgh fringe during the speeches, rather than the groans the joke would normally elicit) and the worst (hauling a drunk bloke off the bus driver at the end of the night because he wouldn’t just “drive ta fucking Dundee, ya prick”).

But more than anything they bring out the questions.

‘How ya’ doing’?”

“I huv ne seen yous since you were in at Uni. What’s bin happening?” How to compress 13 years into a pithy sentence? (Oh, and bonus points in you picked up on the Scottish accent – for we were in Fife).

And, inevitably, “So have yous got babies?’

I have no problem with that question - once they’d established I was still with the callow youth they went to school with it is an obvious one.

Luckily the answer is short, and not very sweet. “Nope.” And we move on.

Usually.

This one guy did not let it go. He was talking about his six year old son. I’m happy to talk about a six year old son - compared to the conversation we’d just been having about Flash verse HTML 5 this was light relief.

“So do you two have kids?”

“No.” we answered equivocally not hinting that there was any more to say on the matter.

“Are you thinking about it?’ He blundered on.

“Yes.” I managed to leave the word ‘constantly’ out of my response.

And as I floundered for a way to bring the topic back to the safe subject of computers he blathered on.

“You totally should. I mean you can spend a long time thinking about it. But it is seriously the best thing that has ever happened to me. And" (this was the killer blow), "it is just easy.”

“No it’s not” The husband and I squeaked simultaneously in a way that I thought would have flagged that this was a conversational cul-de-sac that he really didn’t want to go down.

But alas not, he barrelled on through, with the evangelical enthusiasm only a person the wrong side of five pints can truly muster.

“It is.” He asserted. “I know what you are thinking” and he went on to prove categorically that he didn’t have a fucking clue what we were thinking:

“That it isn’t the right time. But you should totally just do it.

Best.

Thing.

Ever.”

I suddenly felt the need to drag the husband up to dance.

To Girls’ Aloud.

But other than that it was a brilliant wedding. With lots of men in skirts.






Tuesday, 9 August 2011

I Didn't Predict A Riot

It has been a bizarre few days in London.

Turn the TV on and you see a city under siege.

I can hardly believe I am seeing events happening in my own country.  Riots not against oppressive regimes or even, really, police brutality.  (Regardless of the spark, the majority of the rioters don't seem to give a toss about Mark Duggan).

In my flat, however, it has been quieter than normal.  No police sirens as they are busy elsewhere in the city and the noisy, but harmless, kids who hang out on the estate clearly found somewhere else they'd rather be last night.

Rather than getting a first-hand view of the riots we have been sensibly holed up in our flat, I banned the husband from going out to a gig tonight.

But, other than taking sensible precautions, we've carried on. And, at the risk of sounding over sentimental, I've been immensely proud of how the majority of London has reacted.

More people turned up to clear up the mess than made it. People are donating bedding and clothing to those made homeless. I can't turn on twitter without seeing a deluge of offers of help for those adversely affected by the riots.

At this point I should try and make some startling analogy between the riots and infertility. Unfortunately, I am not that clever.

I have, however, been appalled by the age of some of the rioters I've seen on TV.  Kids, really, really, young kids out on the streets. I know there is absolutely no correlation between your ability to breed and your ability to parent. But it is times like this I really wish there was.

Luckily, and I am deeply thankful for this, everyone I know has remained safe.




Sunday, 7 August 2011

Stealth Infertility

You know that special moment when, for a bit of escapism, you are watching a film or reading a book and you suddenly realise the author has slipped in an infertility story-line. It isn't a major part of the story, it certainly wasn't flagged by the trailer voiceover or the book jacket blurb.

The author probably thought it added depth and authenticity to a character.

But suddenly your distraction from your inability to breed, comes back and gives you a big old poke in the ribs.

Bastards.

Indulge me whilst I share my top five infertility blinders.

****WARNING!****

This list does include spoilers, but because the infertility isn't a main topic these revelations shouldn't ruin your enjoyment (in Notting Hill the script manages that all by itself):

The Time Travellers' Wife

One Day

Notting Hill

Hellboy Two

Up

Special mention: Ice Age - Not infertility exactly but I had no idea there was going to be a lost baby in it.

**Updated**

Couple's Retreat

The Moon's A Balloon

Prometheus

Inferno

As you can see I have high-brow taste in books and flicks.

Have you guys come across any other instances of stealth infertility?



Friday, 5 August 2011

I'm On The List

Finally my entreaties have produced a response.

I have emailed four different people, left messages (plural) on three different answer phones, and spoken to six different people - all of whom have denied any knowledge of my referral. Finally today I got an email response:

Dear Mrs [Surname]*

Thank you for your e-mail. Mr [Consultant] has placed you on the waiting
list for surgery. I will contact you soon to organise a date for you to
come in for your procedure.

With many thanks

[one of the consultant's three secretaries]


*I'm not quite sure why she emailed my mother-in-law either.

So I'm taking bets:



This'll separate the optimists from the realists pessimists. (Still the good news is maybe I can now blog about something else for a change).



Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Going Round In Circles

It is a reoccurring problem. There is a nasty growth which antibiotics can't fix. Eventually a medical practitioner had a look at 6pm on Friday evening, the diagnosis was that it needed to be operated on under sedation. Although it wasn't classed as an emergency, from diagnosis on Friday it took just four days for the the operation to take place today.

And that, my dears, is how long it took a Vet to operate on my mutt.

Unfortunately, my Doctor doesn't seem to be quite as efficient as my Vet.

I spent Friday doing more ringing round. I followed Wombattwo's advice and rang the hospital switchboard and asked to be put through to my consultant's secretary.  The woman I spoke to had no record of my referral - she found my notes on her computer, but still nothing.  She kept saying "It would be highly unusual for him to refer you." Yes, sweetheart, I am starting to get that impression.

Eventually she said she'd put me through to my consultant's secretary - which begs the question, who the hell was she?

The next woman I spoke to seemed much more helpful. She asked me to pop everything down in an email. So I did.

The email wasn't much different Thursday's blog post, except I used names and numbers and a bit of undignified begging.

Her response was simply - "I have forwarded your email to Mr [Consultant]".

This was the guy I had already emailed on the 21 of July and have yet to have a response from.

The Husband reckons I haven't fully exploited my over-active tear-ducts to their full potential and that I should go back to my local Doctor and, sobbing, ask her for a referral. My Wombmate reckons I should contact PALS (Patient Advice and Liaison Service). My mate reckons I should write to my Memeber of Parliament. And another friend advocates turning up at the hospital and talking to someone face to face - watch them deny me an appointment then.

I haven't decided what my next course of action is, but I'll give the consultant a couple more days to get back to me, because I am still clinging on to the fact my referral may have been made, I just haven't had the appointment letter through yet.

Who says infertility robs one of all their optimism?