Would You Look at That…

August 11, 2009 at 7:36 am (Uncategorized)

I’d really like to know why someone searching the term “rectal exam butter” was directed to DoctorDi…. and then I’d like to know if there is such a thing. Or, on second thoughts, perhaps not. Sounds vile. Anyway, a bit late in the day, sorry chaps, but I had my post-op appointment with Dr. F, the obs/gyn specialist this morning, and since then I’ve been slowly piecing my MS back together (breaking briefly to stew some rhubarb from Saturday’s farmers’ market), or at least starting to. It’s going to take a while.

I now have colour photos of my endometriosis. They’re not what I would call happy snaps, but it is interesting, and in case you’re wondering, yes, I look thoroughly gross on the inside –  really monstrous if you want my honest opinion. Dr. F was nice as ever, he’s really a very kind man, but I went to pieces. As I said to him as he started trucking tissues my way (and it was cartoonish the way he kept passing them to me. I felt eventually I should knot them all together and make my escape out his window), I don’t even know why I was crying. All things considered, the prognosis is fairly good. The impediment – endometriosis (which Hilary Mantel had too, it turns out, except at the age of 27 she had really drastic sounding surgery and was unable to have kids, so let’s not focus on that for now) – has been removed, and Dr. F thinks there’s no reason to suspect I’ll never get pregnant. But when I put it to him that we went to an IVF evening and were regarding it as the next step, he didn’t talk me out of it. No, he said, “You’re asking me if I think you should do IVF, and I’d say yes, but keep trying on your own in the meantime.”

For some reason, having him endorse the IVF idea really set me to crying.

“That’s what I th-think,” I sobbed. “I mean, we s-started trying nearly three years ago, but now I’m on the end of their ch-chart. Honk.”

“Yes,” Dr. F conceded, “it’s probably time to make tracks.”

Time to make tracks. Part of me wanted to lean across his desk and scream in his kindly face that I’ve been trying to make tracks for three fucking years, and he was one of the eminently qualified people who assured me that tracks would indeed be made in due course and without interference from professional track makers. I could lay my own tracks, he told me. And I had plenty of time in which to do it. Now, of course, the track work is running dangerously behind schedule and the budget has been blown right off the lines and everyone who told me it’ll be fine, it’ll be fine, it’ll be fine has done this shocking about-face whereby suddenly it won’t be fine unless I call for reinforcements. And it’s such an easy thing to revise, one’s historical advice. Since I first saw Dr. F more than a year ago, he’s been telling me there’s nothing to worry about, plenty of time, relax, and I think that’s why I became such a blubbering mess this morning, because he’s certainly changed his tune.

“Well, you’ve got endometriosis,” he said. “But we knew that.”

I didn’t know that,” I said.

“But we suspected, which is why we did the laparoscopy.”

Well, yes. But only because a year of waiting and taking medication had failed to produce even a fourth early miscarriage.

“And you’ve got a very retroverted uterus,” he continued. “Here’s what I wrote immediately after the op. Retroverted uterus, plus plus.”

“Plus plus? What’s that mean? Mine’s more retroverted than a standard retroversion?”

“A retroverted uterus is not unusual, it’s quite common. Here’s what a normal uterus looks like.” He handed me a diagram. “And here’s what yours looks like.” He drew what looked like a badly wilting flower. “It’s facing the wrong direction, see?”

“Yes. That’s very clear. Thank you.”

I put the diagram in my bag with the wad of used tissues.

“But a retroverted uterus won’t prevent a pregnancy or my ability to carry a pregnancy to term?”

Dr. F shook his head.

“No,” he said. “Shouldn’t do.”

“Well then,” I said. “That’s that. Off to IVF.”

I dissolved into tears. Dr. F waited patiently for me to get myself under control, occasionally offering small, soothing phrases like “you poor little thing” – he’s Scottish, so he can get away with it.

“You’re looking very pink today,” he noted as I finally shrugged into my coat. I glanced down at myself.

“Oh yes,” I said. “This is my wet weather outfit. The cars can’t miss me.”

“You’re a good girl, Di,” he said, and I instantly welled up again. “Let me know how you go. And I hope I get to see you for the fun stuff. We’ve had this other stuff, but I’d like to help you with the other.”

We shook hands.

“Thanks, Dr. F,” I said, hanging my head as we entered the Baby Zone near reception, averting his and everyone else’s gaze. “I’d like that too.”

Then I dashed into the elevator and really broke down.

All things considered, I’m kind of impressed with myself for coming home, stewing rhubarb, and going back to work.



  1. kate4samh said,

    Impressed here too Di, but you always are impressive. Much love.

  2. Fugitive Pieces said,

    Oh my God, you poor darling. (I too would be going home and stewing rhubarb, but probably not working.)

    I do realise that other people’s stories are enough to make you spit at such moments…but my Mum has a uterus so retrograde that it’s practically in fashion again (y’know, like dayglo and polka dots. Why? WHY?) and, well, here I am, posting you tactless links about Hilary Mantel’s endometriosis, and aren’t you glad?!

    Seriously, however – there is nothing, absolutely nothing, in this whole horrible cascade of disappointments you’ve endured so far, that means that you two are not going to have the family you’re hoping for. Think of this as the painful re-write of early chapters, that will be perfectly, invisibly apposite once the rest of the story reveals itself.

    And add a sploosh of rosewater to the rhubarb once it’s cooked. Only blooming floral metaphors in this narrative, love. Nothing’s wilted just yet.

  3. doctordi said,

    That’s very nice and very untrue, Kate. But thanks. x

    Fugitive Pieces, what about the recent rash of large bows?? Some designers really have a lot of explaining to do, bringing back trends that were awful first time round and haven’t improved with age. Speaking of age (cackles hysterically), thank you, I do actually take comfort in other people’s war stories. I had no idea there were so many until things started going wrong and people started piping up. I’m happy to go retro with your mum, but perhaps retro in a cool Danish furniture kind of way, or retro of the Eames chair variety, and we’ll steer clear of the bubble skirts and permed hair, thanks. Ooh, I wonder if I can get rosewater at this hour…

  4. litlove said,

    Oh poor Di. It’s a mystery why people get pregnant, and I can only add my voice to the chorus that says there is still no reason why it shouldn’t happen for you. I would have lots of relaxing massages myself, so there’s no stress to get in the way. Oh and I heard there’s an amazing juice you can drink that raises your fertility levels – maca root is what you need, I believe. Good luck!! I have just about everything crossed for you.

  5. doctordi said,

    Thanks, LL, I am okay, truly. Wow, listen to that storm outside! Very cool. I adore storms as long as I am safe and warm and dry. Anyway, Dr. Ferry also said it was all a bit mysterious, the whole thing, and I said, “Well, as it should be,” and I do really mean that, I like the mystery, and I love surprises, and I am not despairing (though probably not drinking any revolting drinks…!). Be that as it may, please do keep everything crossed.

  6. Fugitive Pieces said,

    A thought just occurred. The endometriosis/multiple miscarriage combo sounds familiar. You have been checked for Hughes Syndrome, haven’t you?
    because it’s actually very simple to treat (aspirin and/or heparin), but bloody easy to miss. Sorry to ask publicly, and please don’t feel you have to respond here. Just thought I should mention it.

  7. doctordi said,

    I don’t mind questions in public, Fugitive, in fact, I think I pretty much forfeited the right to be precious about my privacy when I began maintaining a public blog and writing posts about this and other deeply personal subjects, but thank you kindly for your consideration on this point!

    Um, I’ve had blood tests GALORE (and guess what? I have a rare blood type! I’m not even kidding!), and while no one said anything about Hughes Syndrome, the tests did turn up some tiny indicator of a minor increased chance of blood clotting, and both my GP and then Dr. F separately talked about aspirin and both ended up concluding that my level was so low as to suggest it was not something that required treatment, and that aspirin might do me more harm than good. So… that’s all I’ve got. But I’ll raise this again with the good folk at IVF Australia.

  8. Fugitive Pieces said,

    Mmm, I sort of figured you’d be in pincushion territory. They’re making a big noise about Hughes Syndrome (and similar) in the US and UK, just wasn’t sure about here. It must be hard to strike the balance between a zen love of infinite mystery, and the urge to Google ’til your eyeballs bleed. I say, whatever allows you to sleep more. Sleep is important.
    As for fashion – just looked down and realised that I was wearing leggings, ballet slippers AND over-the-elbow fingerless mittens. Christ, I hate trend creep. I look like a one-woman John Hughes tribute, and I hadn’t even noticed.

    • doctordi said,

      Yeah, absolutely – I steer clear of Doctor Google for that precise reason. I know if I started I’d never stop. And I’m with you on the sleep; I’ll do just about anything for a decent night’s shut-eye, including steering clear of the virtual literature. I must say, Fugitive, you sound very a la mode… and over the elbow fingerless mittens? They sound suspiciously like Charlotte’s tricky ‘arm-warmers’ – http://howtoshuckanoyster.com/2009/07/08/creative-genius-knit-wit/ – see?

      And there are worse things than looking like a John Hughes tribute. I still think Molly Ringwald looks awesome in The Breakfast Club… and did he do Some Kind of Wonderful? Eric Stoltz is a spunk.

      • Fugitive Pieces said,

        Horrible suspicion that I’ve stuck with the fashion of my early yoof (being of odd and lengthy proportions, once I find clothes that fit, by jiminy I wear ’em…and wear ’em) and now I am inadvertently fashionable, but too ancient to be plausible in Sydney bars.
        And I’ve just read Charlotte’s post. One of her commenters is already a mate, but I feel like you’ve led me to my tribe, if that’s not too presumptuous. I like you people. Lots. AND I WANT THOSE GLOVES. And as for Eric Stoltz – get in line, sister.

  9. Grad said,

    It won’t hurt to call out the IVF cavalry. Big hugs coming your way. Wish I could bake you some cookies. I’m impressed with the fact that you actually EAT rhubarb, forget about stewing it! :>

    • doctordi said,

      Oh, Graddikins, rhubarb is scrum-diddly-umptious! What about rhubarb and apple crumble?? And rhubarb with really good yoghurt? Or served with a vanilla pannacotta?? YUM! And trust me. I also wish you could bake me some cookies!

  10. Lilian Nattel said,

    I’m sorry it was so rough. Trying to conceive is such an emotional roller coaster.

    • doctordi said,

      Thanks, Lilian. I know you’ve been through a lot of this yourself and understand perfectly the desire to just get off this ride!

  11. Grad said,

    Okay there, you young whippersnapper. I felt awful that during the time I went underground I missed the postings of my fave bloggers. So I’ve been trying to catch up with my work and sneak in some time to read past posts. I’ve missed some funny stuff you’ve written. But, I had no idea you were only 36. I don’t know that I ever knew your age, but your worry about the ticking clock made me think you might be cruising up to menopause (or as my daughter put it when she was little, mental pause – which is probably a more accurate description for some of us.) I had her when I was 36. My roommate in the recovery room was 40 – we both had girls. My neighbor across the street was 42 when she had her second. It ain’t over til it’s over, baby, as Olympia Dukakis said in Moonstruck.

  12. doctordi said,

    Well, you’re forgiven. Nantucket Grey can do that to a gal. And anyway, these blog posts, they just sit here. Indefinitely. I sometimes worry about that; what if one day they all just vanish? I’d like to keep some of these… maybe I should be keeping a copy just in case the web turns itself off one day. Code writers would no doubt scoff at such an idea, but how the hell would I know what the web’s virtual capacity might be… is it infinite? Hmmm. Anyway, off topic.

    I am 37 next month, Graddikins, and so while I see and appreciate exactly what you’re saying, believe me, I do, and although I am not alarmist about my own age, time is just pulling ahead in this little race, and I’m aware that my position on their curve has changed pretty dramatically over the past three years, and now I’m classed as a completely different prospect. But yes, no fat ladies have pulled out the song book just yet.

  13. doctordi said,

    By the way, I *love* “mental pause” – that could really take off.

  14. doctordi said,

    Fugitive, I’m the same. I don’t buy clothes often enough to be cavalier about my wardrobe – I choose carefully because I have to, I’m a starving writer whatever the Productivity Commission would like to suggest of my “psychic income,” and then I flog that frayed clotheshorse to death. I love the idea of being utterly implausible in a Sydney bar. And I figured you fingerless arm-warmer wearers would probably have other things in common – I did feel envious of Charlotte’s all over again – but a whole person?! That’s, what, one degree of separation? Presume away, the more the merrier!

    Whatever happened to Eric Stoltz?

  15. Catherine said,

    Eric Stoltz (agreed, totally hot) recently starred as a serial killer about to be put to death and wanting to give away a no longer required body part (I think liver?) to a sick kid in a few episodes of Grey’s Anatomy. Hmm.

    Btw I’ve got mum on the case with the arm warmer thingys, she’s a knitting machine. Will let you know if it turns out she’s up to the challenge; I’m sure she’ll be happy to take orders.

  16. doctordi said,

    Does he know he has a legion of female fans Down Under?! I bet not! But I’m glad I didn’t see him as a serial killer – that’s gotta tarnish the sex appeal.

    Oh, this is good news, C, very good news indeed… tell your mum to get her knitting needles and order pad ready.

  17. David said,

    I’d be pretty creeped out by that doctor, if it were me … but I’m the type who prefers that the doctor continually assures me that the worst will happen, and then if it doesn’t, we’re both pleasantly surprised.

    While I realize that in this situation it’s part of his job to be encouraging, I can’t help feeling he did you a disservice in his optimism, which he has now retracted. IVF works for a lot of people, but he probably should have kept that option more clearly on the table all along, rather than seeming to promise that you wouldn’t need to go that route.

  18. David said,

    I realized I changed thoughts in midstream during that last sentence — what I was trying to say is that IVF works for a lot of people, and *for that reason* he should have kept it more obviously on the table as an option.

  19. doctordi said,

    David, I think that’s it. I think that’s what got me. Easy for him to say, and then just as easy for him to slide away from saying. It’s not his problem, never will be.

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